As many of you know, I spend somequite a bit a crazy amount of time every day on twitter. I love that I’ve been able to strike up acquaintances with other bloggers, writers, nutritionists and companies that way. Well, several months ago, I began to notice tweets about a new (to me) company, Mum’s Original. I was intrigued by how many people were waxing poetic about it. Since the products are carried at my local health food store, I purchased a bag of their hemp seeds and gave them a try. And they were, indeed, great! So when the folks at Mum’s asked if I’d be interested in sampling a bunch more of their products, I jumped at the opportunity.
I’m already a proponent of “superfoods”–those foods that confer health benefits beyond the usual vitamins, minerals, fiber and the like. So even though I was previously famliar with the actual foods themselves, I hadn’t yet tried all of the Mum’s versions. And there were a couple of very pleasant surprises, too!
Here’s what they sent to me:
This amazing stash includes Raw Cacao Powder, Delores Hemp Hearts, White Chia Seeds, Coconut Sugar, Goji Berries, Coconut Cacao Nibs, and Banana Powder.
One of the things I loved about the company was the integrity with which they source and manufacture their products. As they write on their website, their superfoods “are grown with care at our sustainable family owned partnership farms using traditional and artesian methods of cultivation and processing,” even using heirloom seeds whenever possible. In addition, their products are never GMO, are organic, and are free of any man-made toxins in the way of pesticides or chemicals. The company’s owner, Ann Barnes, is herself a mother of two children, and concerned about her kids’ futures and providing healthy foods grown in an ethical manner. And let me tell you, their products are really top-notch!
I was already an avid consumer of cacao, hemp, chia, coconut sugar, goji berries and cacao nibs, so the product that intrigued me most was the banana powder, dehydrated and finely milled vine-ripened organic bananas. I immediately got to experimenting to create a pipe-able banana frosting that would hold up at room temperature (which I piped atop raw mini-cupcakes, as pictured at the top of this post). Of course, those of us on the ACD don’t consume bananas, but at this stage of the game (more than 3 years on the program), I knew that a single bite wouldn’t really affect my condition–and that the HH would be more than happy to polish off the rest (which, lo and behold, he was, in record time!). The results were stellar, with an incredibly intense fresh banana flavor. I bet you will love them, too. I’ll share that recipe tomorrow, so please come back to check it out!
After the cupcakes, I began to work my way through the other products as well. I used the Coconut Cacao nibs as garnish on the banana frosting (see top photo). These are truly ingenious! They’re cacao nibs enrobed in coconut sugar, sort of the way sugared almonds or coffee beans are coated in sugar. I use cacao nibs occasionally, but have always found them a bit too bitter on their own. Mum’s solved that problem perfectly with the cacao-coconut sugar combo! I’d use these in place of chocolate chips, sprinkled on granola, or even as a snack on their own. Again, it’s not something I’d consume on a regular basis on the ACD, but at the later stages, or for anyone looking to minimize their refined sugar intake, this is a brilliant solution.
I had read about the Delores Hemp Hearts, a uniquely Canadian-born form of hemp that an ingenious Manitoba farmer developed. And there’s even a love story involved. . . read about it here. Apart from the story behind it, what I loved about the Delores hemp seeds was that they offer more protein per volume than other types of hemp. And they were, indeed, delicious!
The HH and I dug into the goji berries next. Honestly, these were the biggest, plumpest gojis I’ve ever seen! They were eagerly approved by The Girls as well. (What? Doesn’t everyone give goji berries to their dogs?). I’ve still got the chia seeds and cacao waiting to be used. . . I’ve been kind of hoarding them, since I know they will be exceptionally delicious, too! Overall, I was incredibly impressed by the quality, care, and thought that went was behind each and every one of the products.
“Mum, I agree-those gojis were delicious! Just look at this smile on my face!”
Now I want you to try out these superior products as well! And Mum’s has graciously agreed to provide TWO readers each with this same stellar pack of their superfoods, each worth more than $65!
This giveaway is open to anyone in the US or Canada (so sorry, International readers! I’ve got another giveaway coming up for you, too, next month!). And there are six ways to enter! For this giveaway, I’m trying out a new widget (the box, below) to make entering/picking a winner easier. To begin, just leave a comment on this post. It’s easy–just follow the instructions, below. What do you think of it? Let me know!
And if you just can’t wait for the giveaway. . .SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR DDD READERS!!
Mum’s has offered a special 15% discount for any online orders for all Diet, Dessert and Dogs readers!! Just order your products via the Mum’s website and key in the code “RICKI” upon checkout. [This is an affiliate discount, so your orders will send a small amount of money my way.]. Go to the Mum’s product page to make your selections and start your purchase.
NOTE: YOU MUST LEAVE A COMMENT FOR THE GIVEAWAY OR YOUR ENTRY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.
Pretty much anyone who knows me from this blog (or anywhere else) knows that I don’t consume refined sugar. In fact, since I started the anti-candida diet in March, 2009, I’ve abstained from almost all sweeteners, refined or otherwise. (I’ve also abstained from about 1,182 other foods that are verboten on the ACD, but that’s a whole other kettle of seaweed. )
Given my sugar-free stance, I was very excited when Hallie and Lexie revealed the theme for this week’s posts in their New Year, New You event: “Swap the Sweeteners”! The event takes place each Thursday this month and is designed to share tips and tricks to help you initiate–and maintain–healthful changes this year. Previous topics include Eat More Produce and Snack Smart. Be sure to check out Hallie’s post today to see what she baked up (yum!) and to enter to win a fabulous package of natural sweeteners, including stevia, agave nectar, unsulphured molasses and raw natural honey!
Looking to Swap Out the Sugar? Here Are My Favorite Naturally Low-Glycemic Alternatives.
Though the ACD prohibits most sweeteners, there are a few permitted (and thank goodness for that!). Here are my top picks for low glycemic sweeteners that you can use while fighting candida (or any time you wish to replace cane sugar with a healthier option).
It seems that the popularity of stevia has really exploded over the past year or so. This zero calorie, zero glycemic sweetener is my all-time favorite, and I continue to use it pretty much daily as my sweetener of choice. I’ve already written at length about this all-natural herbal sweetener, so I’ll direct you to this post to learn more.
How to Swap It: Remember that stevia can be up to 100 times sweeter than sugar, so it’s difficult to use as a replacement for all the sugar in a recipe (you’ll be swapping out perhaps 1/2 cup (120 ml) for just 1/8 of a teaspoon (0.5 ml)stevia, for instance, which would alter both the chemical makeup and consistency of your final product). After years of experimentation, I’ve found a few ways to use stevia successfully in baked goods. For my latest favorite, see the recipe at the end of this post.
This dark, thick and sticky syrup is derived from the yacon plant, a tuberous plant from the Andes region. It registers low on the glycemic index (reports range from zero to 28), so it’s recommended for Type II diabetics (listen up, Paula Deen!) or anyone seeking to cut back on sugars. With a texture and flavor similar to molasses (and, I find, with a slightly fermented flavor), yacon can be used in place of other sweeteners.
How to Swap It: Because of its fairly prominent flavor and not-too-sweet taste, I tend to use yacon along with another sweetener in baking; it works especially well with carob, cocoa or winter spices, the flavors of which are assertive enough to stand up to the yacon.
Another instantly-popular newcomer to the realm of natural sweeteners, coconut sugar and coconut syrup, extracted from the coconut palm flower, are natural, minimally processed sweeteners that have been used for ages in Southeast Asian countries; the sugar is sometimes known as jaggery. Both are low on the glycemic index (around 35), with a rich, butterscotch or caramel flavor; coconut sugar also contains a good amount of potassium and Vitamin C. I love the taste of coconut sugar as well as the depth it adds to baked goods.
How to Swap It: Coconut sugar can be used one-for-one instead of regular sugar; the syrup can be used as well, but you’ll need to adjust the levels of liquids and dry ingredients to compensate. I often use coconut syrup in non-baked desserts such as ice creams, fudge, or truffle balls.
One of the best ways to replace sugar in your baking and cooking is to use fruit purées instead. My favorite choice is dried dates (simply soak for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and blend to a paste in your food processor); prunes (aka dried plums) work equally well. However, since I’m not permitted dates on the anti-candida diet, I’ve turned to other fruits for that purpose. I find that pear purée works wonders to add sweetness and binding power to baked goods; and its mild flavor won’t overpower other ingredients in your recipe. Applesauce is more commonly used, and works very well, too.
How to Swap It: As a rule, you’ll need to reduce both your liquid ingredients and your sugar to swap it for fruit. However, note that the texture may be altered as well. Normally you can replace up to 1/3 cup (80 ml) of sugar with fruit and achieve good results.
Although I’m now able to use coconut sugar in baking, I decided to create a recipe for today’s post sweetened only with stevia so that anyone could enjoy it, whether or not they’re allowed higher glycemic sweeteners. I’ve also used psyllium husks as a binder for the first time, after seeingseveralrecipes with it recently on various blogs I read. I had some psyllium already in my pantry from a raw foods class I took a while back (it’s a fairly common ingredient among those who eat live foods), so it seemed the perfect time to start playing with it in the kitchen.
It took a couple of tries, but I finally found the correct ratio to produce a tasty bread that binds well without xanthan gum. As a bonus, the only fat in this loaf is from the nuts and nut butter–no added oils. The version with quinoa is higher protein (always a good thing for a vegan bread), but I have to admit I preferred the flavor of the amaranth,which offers a more delicate crumb. While it’s not terribly sweet, the flavor is subtle and pleasing–a perfect bread for breakfast or snacking.
The HH has been munching on this for breakfast the past week and seems blissfully unaware that he’s eating something “healthy.” And I’m entirely delighted that I could swap his regular Tim Horton’s muffin for a treat that’s actually good for him!
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway over at Hallie’s! And here are this week’s other participants to offer more tips on swapping out the sugar:
Despite what looks like a long ingredient list, this is really an easy bread to make. Its light, moist crumb will remind you of muffins, but it’s a bit more sturdy and a bit less sweet. . . perfect with nut butter for breakfast, or even as a means to sop up some heart, savory soup.
1/3 cup (40 g) lightly toasted walnut pieces or chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly grease a regular loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.
Place the psyllium husks, apple cider vinegar, vanilla and almond butter in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to reach the 1-1/2 cup (360 ml) mark. Using a small whisk or fork, whisk everything together until the almond butter is well dissolved in the liquid and no lumps remain. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, sift together all remaining ingredients except for the walnuts. Whisk well to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Add the walnuts.
Whisk the liquid again to ensure that it’s smooth and everything is incorporated, then pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir just to combine (do not overmix!). Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake in preheated oven for 65-75 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until the bread is well browned on the bottom and sides, and the top springs back when touched lightly (there will be a fairly thick crust by this time, but it should still spring back). A knife inserted in the center should come out moist but clean.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan allow to cool completely before slicing. The bread is very moist on the first day and dries a bit by the second. Store, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator up to 3 days, or freeze for later. Makes one medium loaf, or 8-10 slices.
*Or, How About a Dickens Reference Other Than A Christmas Carol for a Change?
["Happy New Year, Mum! A saner approach to 2012 sounds good to me, too. Oh, and kudos on that atypical Dickens reference!"]
Happy 2012, everyone! Hope you all had a great time ringing in the new year. I’m incredibly excited to see what 2012 will bring! But before we get to that. . . . [Warning: long post ahead. Hopefully, it will still be 2012 by the time we're finished. To skip to the giveaway info, just go to the last section of this entry.]
I had actually intended this post to be part of Cheryl’s December Sanity Challenge, her blog event that exhorted us to “post on what you plan to do to make your holidays sane, happy and healthy.” (First pledge for 2012: get things done on time.). Clearly, I’m a little behind the curve on this one (sorry, Cheryl!). Well, since the holiday festivities have already passed and I haven’t quite achieved that elusive sanity as yet, I thought this would be as good a time as any to take stock of the past year, reflect on what worked or what didn’t, and formulate a plan to help increase the sanity quotient throughout the upcoming 365 days.
One of my proudest health victories in 2011 was reversing the previous year’s diagnosis of near-osteoporosis (with a T-score of -2.2, I landed at the top of the “osteopenia” spectrum). Although my (allopathic) family doctor assured me that there was no way to reverse osteopenia and warned that I would need to start taking prescription drugs to avert disaster, I convinced her to let me try a holistic approach for a year. My recent bone density test indicated that my numbers improved dramatically–up to -1.3–which means less than a 10% chance of fracture after a fall! Yippee!
Many of you asked how I did it. While I’m loath to provide specific details about supplements because (a) each of us is an individual, and should, therefore, acquire an individualized program from a certified health care provider; and (b) I am not qualified to provide this type of information to anyone else–this is my personal story only–I am happy to share what I did because it worked for me. However, I can’t stress enough that this is the plan I followed, but it may not work for you. Please contact your own health care provider before embarking on any kind of bone-building regimen, or any health-promoting regimen, period.
My year-long plan (which I’m still following, for the time being) involved increasing bone-building minerals and foods in my diet, and boosting the amount of weight-bearing exercise. Here’s what I did:
Based on my naturopath’s plan for me, I took all these daily supplements in addition to my other regular supplements (such as probiotics, Omega 3s, CoQ10, B12 and whatever else I’m on for candida and general health):
Apart from my “regular” diet (lots of veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds, soy about once every 2 weeks, whole gluten-free grains, and a daily slurry of one teaspoon/5 ml spirulina (or other green food) combined with some almond, rice or soy milk and a tablespoon of ground flax seeds and chia seeds every single morning), I added a few more foods. Although I had been consuming a good amount of leafy greens (I adore kale and pretty much love all green leafys), I decided to amp up the green quotient nonetheless. I ate 2 servings of leafy greens at least 4 times a week, with a minimum of one serving on the other days.
I also increased my intake of beans and legumes, which offer a great array of minerals necessary for a healthy bone matrix. Seaweed contains a similarly broad range of nutrients, so I attempted to increase my intake of those as well. I ended up eating beans and legumes 5-6 times a week, with seaweeds (such as nori sheets, arame, wakame, etc.) just under once a week. My goal this year is to augment that amount as well.
Again, this past year was about building on established routines. (And please note, I am by NO MEANS what I’d call a “fitness buff”; exercise to me is mostly necessity, never something I love doing. I’m definitely moderate in my approach and don’t really care whether or not I build muscle as long as I’m within a healthy range.)
My pattern before 2011 had been to walk every day (30-40 minutes with The Girls, with an additional short walk on the treadmill most days) and to use weights 3-4 times a week. I determined to increase my walking time by at least 30 minutes a day and amp up my weight-based workouts to every second day (ie, 4 times a week), adding in a few muscle groups I hadn’t been targeting specifically with weights before that (such as the abductors and adductors). Overall, I ended up walking about 70 minutes total each day, and used the weight machines at my local gym daily, alternating between upper and lower body, six days a week.
I certainly understand that an hour’s walk each day may seem a tad much for some folks. . . at least, those who don’t own dogs. As for the alimentary changes, it’s not as difficult as you’d imagine to incorporate more greens and legumes: smoothies and salads are two obvious ways; I also tend to add chopped greens to soups and stews without thinking these days. As for beans, there are endless recipes to incorporate more of them in one’s diet. All it takes is a little determination, and remembering to include them in your menus!
Candida Update: Symptoms Holding Steady in 2011.
March of this year will mark 3 years since I began the ACD (holy jeepers! That’s 36 months. 156 weeks. Three seasons of American Idol. . . all without sugar or mold!). After some great progress in 2010, my symptoms continued to hold steady in 2011, spurring a shift from Stage 2 to Stage 3 (and even some maintenance) foods in 2011.
At this point, I’ve grown fairly accustomed to eating this way, and have managed to welcome back a few previously eschewed ingredients into my diet, such as the occasional drizzle of vinegar (if I’m in a restaurant and the dressing contains regular vinegar, I no longer ask them to serve the salad without) or apple cider vinegar (either permitted or not, depending on which version of the diet you follow); the occasional sweeter or dried fruit, particularly if I’m eating at a raw food restaurant; and low glycemic sweeteners other than stevia (coconut sugar, coconut nectar, agave). If I’m moderate in my intake of these newer foods, they pose no problems and there are no symptom flare-ups. I can live with that.
II. The Worst of Times: What Didn’t Work, and Where I’m Going this Year
Weight Loss: Not Holding Steady in 2011.
If you’ve been a DDD reader since I first embarked on the ACD in March, 2009, you’ll recall that I lost a considerable amount of weight on the regimen, without a single day of “dieting.” Still, as someone who strives to be an “intuitive” eater, I’ve come to believe that intuition, shall we say, is not my forte.
["Mum, it's easy to be an intuitive eater! Just do what I do: eat anything that isn't moving--and that includes Elsie's ear!"]
Let me be clear: I haven’t veered at all from what is permitted on the diet. Nevertheless, I’ve seen my weight creep slowly back up as the past year unfolded.
Sure, the foods I consume are über-healthy and my diet would be considered draconian by the standards of many; but for me, one extra (sugar-free, gluten-free, ACD-friendly) cookie can easily morph into four cookies; in true Libra fashion, I tend to vacillate between feast and famine (figuratively speaking, of course, having never approached true famine in my life).
Recently I came across a fascinating article about why those of us who’ve lost (and gained, and lost, and gained, and lost) considerable amounts of weight find it so excruciatingly difficult to permanently inhabit the realm of “slim.”
According to a study undertaken at Columbia University in New York, the cellular makeup and chemistry of formerly zaftig bodies have been permanently changed, so that former dieters ”showed a bigger response in the parts of the brain associated with reward and a lower response in the areas associated with control. This suggests that the body, in order to get back to its pre-diet weight, induces cravings by making the person feel more excited about food and giving him or her less willpower to resist a high-calorie treat.” At the same time, “After you’ve lost weight, your brain has a greater emotional response to food,” [the study's author] says. “You want it more, but the areas of the brain involved in restraint are less active.”
As someone who experiences this biochemical Catch-22 fairly frequently, it makes total sense to me that, once a dieter has achieved a desired weight, s/he will thereafter crave food more than a naturally slim person–while simultaneously possessing less willpower to limit the food eaten. The upshot, then, as David Kessler instructs us in The End of Overeating, is to be vigilant about planning and organizing what one will eat in order to steer clear of ”trigger” foods. Which leads me to. . . .
III. The Outlook for 2012: A Cleanse, Multiple Giveaways, and Other Events:
I’m kicking off the year with a whole-foods cleanse that will serve not only to further stymie the remaining dregs of candida in my system, but also reset my sweets cravings to a level somewhat below an elephant’s trumpet, which is where they’ve been residing lately. As those of you who’ve ditched sugar in the past undoubtedly know, once you eliminate the sweet stuff for long enough, the constant desire to seek it out abates as well. For me, that shift took a little longer than the norm (sugar cravings usually disappear within 10 days or so of cutting out sugar; in my case, they held their grip until somewhere around the six-month point on the ACD). [NOTE: while this is NOT specifically a sugar detox (that one, which I'll be offering with Andrea Nakayama, is coming up in March!), as a general, all-purpose healthy-eating plan, it will of course help to detox sugar--as well as other toxins in the body.]
There’s be nothing extreme about this detox, which is being offered online by my nutritionista friend Meghan Telpner: there are no special pills or potions–just real, whole, healthy foods that will help to chase away the ghosts of Christmas (and the rest of the year) past (okay, so I couldn’t resist that Christmas Carol reference, after all).
And guess what? For those who’d like to play along, Meghan is offering a free spot in the 16-day detox, which begins on January 6th. You’ll get an ebook filled with information and recipes, online coaching, a group tweetchat, live videos and more (check out all the details here). I’m going to be following along as well, so keep an eye out for more raw recipes on the blog!
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me why you’d like to participate. The contest is open until NOON my time this Thursday, January 5th. I’ll announce a winner in my Wellness Weekend post on Thursday evening (January 5th), leaving plenty of time for you to receive your materials and join in the pre-cleanse conference call Friday at 4:00 PM.
[Full disclosure: I received a free spot in the detox in exchange for holding this giveaway. I was not required to say anything positive about the cleanse in this post--or anything at all, actually. I'm endorsing it based on the materials in the cleanse and my knowledge of Meghan's approach to healthy eating.]
The Balanced Platter Launches!
Yesterday marked the launch of The Balanced Platter, the new website founded by Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Maggie of She Let Them Eat Cake. TBP promises to be your “one-stop site for balanced, healthy gluten-free living. . . . .we’ll help you navigate the gluten-free, whole foods lifestyle. You’ll also learn easy and effective ways to give yourself and your family wholesome, allergy friendly food and tips for bringing balance to your life through food and lifestyle.” Well, how great does that sound?! They’re kicking off the site with a month-long event called “Balanced, Healthy and Gluten-Free,” with daily posts and a giveaway. Check their site for more info.
I’m thrilled to share that I’ll be one of the regular contributors to The Balanced Platter. Visit again tomorrow to see my first post!
I’ll share events in the days to come, but I think this post is already quite long enough, thank you! (In fact, it may just have taken first place as ”Longest Post of 2012″–yes, I know that already). ;) I’ll be taking one more glance backward with my next recipe (from our 2011 Christmas dinner) before springing full force into the new year.
Yep, I’d say there are definitely some Great Expectations ahead! (oops, there I go again. . . groan).
We’re into our last week of A Gluten Free Holiday 2011! You can still enter over at Maggie’s blog to win one of two great cookbooks, until this coming Wednesday, December 21st. She’ll announce the winners shortly after that.
And this week marks one of my favorite themes of all : DESSERT! It’s being hosted by Maggie at She Let Them Eat Cake.
Be sure to hop over to Maggie’s blog to check out her Gingerbread Cupcakes and giveaway! You can also link up your own GF dessert recipes and leave a comment to enter today’s giveaway. Here’s what Maggie will be giving away:
To enter to win either book, just leave a comment on Maggie’s blog, or link up a recipe of your own!
And now, who’s ready for dessert? I think we’ve waited long enough!
I actually first made this pie quite a while ago (some of you may remember that I posted about it on Facebook), but I’ve been holding on to the recipe, clinging to it like Scrooge gripping his last penny so that I could save it for this very post. Seriously, this is one is a show-stopper, a perfect finale to a holiday meal or any special occasion. And it’s worth every second of the effort involved.
I recently served this to a friend of the HH’s who came for dinner (he’s a typical Standard American Diet kinda guy–McMuffin for breakfast, cheeseburger for lunch, Pringles on the go and pizza for dinner) and he scraped the plate clean, eagerly accepting a second serving. The HH, who is fond of any dessert that’s light, cool and creamy, declared this to be one of my best recipes to date. I think so, too.
The funny thing is, I don’t consider myself to be a “pie person.” There are folks who adore pies; those who dive right in to the filling, virtually ignoring the crust; and, alternately, those who pick away at the pastry indifferent to the oozing cherries or blueberries or glistening apple slices within. I would normally consider myself one of the latter, if I ever ate pie at all. I thought of the filling as merely a “crust delivery vehicle.”
In this case, though, the entire package must be savored, the layers of crust, ganache, mousse and drizzle melding together in one tantalizing confection. The base is a chocolate shortbread crust, adapted from the recipe in Sweet Freedom (revamped to be gluten-free and ACD-friendly). Next is a layer of intense dark chocolate ganache, a perfect marriage of smooth and condensed. The top layer, a serendipitous combination of coconut whipped cream, smooth almond butter and dark chocolate, is so pillowy, rich and creamy that you may need a moment to compose yourself after you take your first sinful bite.
I also experimented with the pie as a torte in a springform pan, with an equally enticing outcome. So no matter what your own preference, you can still enjoy this exquisite dessert.
Depending on which format you choose, you may end up with a tad extra ganache at the end of the process. In fact, I found myself with about 1/2 cup (120 ml) left over after the pie was assembled.
So, what did I do with it?
[Pumpkin Oatmeal Bowl with Chocolate Ganache Swirl.]
Oh, yes. Yes, I did. Maybe I am a pie person, after all.
And here are the desserts that other Gluten Free Holiday participants made today:
This is a perfect dessert to serve at a special occasion, a holiday meal, or any time you want to impress your guests. No one will believe there’s no dairy, eggs, or refined sugar in this amazing confection!
60 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, about 1 tsp/5 ml (I use NuNaturals)
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure almond extract
1 level teaspoon (5 ml) xanthan gum
** I used two cans (400 ml or 14 oz) for this entire recipe. Measure out the 1-1/3 cups/320 ml for the ganache; you should have about 2 cups left for the mousse.
Bake the Crust: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9-inch ( cm) pie plate or 8-1/2 inch ( cm) springform pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Mix the coconut sugar, agave nectar, vanilla and water in a smal bowl and mix to begin dissolving the sugar. Set aside while you prepare the dry ingredients.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend the all-purpose flour, brown rice flour, cocoa powder, stevia, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt until well combined. Add the coconut oil and pulse a few times to break it up, then blend until well distributed (it will look dry and crumbly; this is as it should be). Pour the wet mixture in a ring over the dry and process again until it comes together in a dough.
Press the dough into the pie plate or on the bottom only of the springform pan (if it’s too soft to stay on the sides of the pie plate, refrigerate it for about ten minutes and then re-press; flute edges if desired.) Prick the bottom of the crust here and there with a fork.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-25 minutes, until dry and lightly browned on the edges. Allow to cool while you prepare the ganache.
Prepare the Ganache: Place all ingredients in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot over lowest possible heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary by adding more stevia, a drop or two at a time (you can add more coconut sugar if you like, but unless you continue to cook the mixture, it won’t dissolve and your ganache will be grainy).
Measure out 2 cups (480 ml) of the mixture and pour it over the crust in the pie plate or pan; reserve the rest to drizzle on top of the pie. Place the crust in the refrigerator for at least an hour so the ganache can firm up.
When the ganache is firm, make the mousse: In the container of a high-powered blender (I use a VitaMix), place all ingredients except for the xanthan gum. Blend for 30 seconds to a minute, until everything is well mixed and very smooth. Add the xanthan gum and blend on low speed until incorporated, then blend on high for 15 seconds or so, until the mixture firms up and appears to no longer be blending; this should happen fairly quickly. (If you don’t have a VitaMix, you can still make this, but you will need to make the mousse in two batches as a regular blender will not be strong enough to mix the entire thing at once; this even stresses the VitaMix a bit! Use exactly half of each ingredient in each batch, then proceed as follows).
Turn the mousse into the prepared crust and spread evenly over the ganache (or you can swirl it into a fancy pattern on top if you like). Drizzle as much of the reserved ganache as you like in a random pattern over the top of the mousse. Refrigerate until the ganache and filling are both firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Cut slices from the pie plate, or, to unmold the springform pan, run a sharp knife along the edge before loosening the sides of the pan. Makes 8-10 servings. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 5 days. May be frozen (I freeze individual slices on a cookie sheet in the freezer; once solid, I wrap each slice in plastic wrap, then store the wrapped slices in a ziploc bag. To defrost, remove the slices and allow to defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator).
I’m delighted to be taking part in the Home for the Holidays event, organized by Shirley over at Gluten Free Easily. The event spans almost a month, with a new blogger each day (25 in all!) presenting to you the recipe that spells “home” to her or him: the one that sparks memories of family gatherings when you were a child, warms your insides, makes you smile and evokes love and community. The one you immediately think of when you think, “holidays“! And we hope you’ll join in on your own blog by posting the badge, below, and linking up to the event as well!
So what does this mean? Well, there are twenty five amazing recipes–AND twenty five amazing giveaways! Just as there will be a new recipe posted every day (mine’s at the end of the post), there will also be a new set of prizes each day (each blogger will be giving away 3 prizes, with some repeated, so if you don’t win a favorite book on one day, you can try again later!). In addition to the individual bloggers’ giveaways, Shirley is coordinating three incredible Grand Prizes–and you’re automatically entered for each of the grand prizes every time you enter any of the individual giveaways throughout the month (such as the one you’ll find below!). D
To enter to win these three prizes–or any of the others—leave a comment on any, or all, of the blogs presenting in the event. Every entry also counts toward the three grand prizes. The more you enter, the more chances you have to win! The three prizes above will be announced on Gluten Free Easily on Christmas.
Today, I’m giving away these two prizes: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
TWO Copies of Living WithoutMagazine! This is a fantastic resource for anyone who has food intolerances, sensitivities or allergies. You’ll find great information and recipes for people who live without eating gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, etc!
The giveaway will run until MIDNIGHT ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13.THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED! Shirley will announce the winners on her blog at the end of the week, and I’ll also announce them here thereafter.
For a complete list of all the prizes and their sponsors, see the end of this post (just after the recipe).
[Chocolate + peppermint + truffles = My kinda holiday food!]
When I thought about what foods evoke “holidays” for me, there was only one answer: chocolate. As an avowed chocaholic (okay, serious, recidivist, chocolate addict), pretty much any special occasion has to include the beloved blissful brown bite, but wintertime holidays in particular bring this confection to mind.
When I was a singleton living on my own, I rented the basement apartment of a fabulous Victorian home that had been converted into four flats. The woman on the top floor was a jetsetting, run- (and flirt)-with-the-wolves kind of gal, with a fashion sense that combined pixie-cute appeal with a definite siren-sexiness factor. (In the end, she nabbed the son of Canada’s richest billionaire as her husband. The marriage has since dissolved, but I have no doubt that the bank account is as healthy as ever).
One year, Ms. Jetsetter invited me to a Christmas party in her flat. Emerging from the bowels of the building, my eyes still squinting from the light, I was entirely entranced by the fantasty winter-wonderland theme of her party and the dreamy quality of the decorations in her apartment. It was as if she had smeared the camera lens with Vaseline and strung gauze all over the place, with everything slightly blurred, the edges softened, silver and white undertones to the light and shadows throughout the place. The antique tree decorations were illuminated in glimmering beams, reflecting off the glowing embers in the fireplace. Tabletops were crowded with plates of food and drink and small, flickering candles emitting a soft and sensuous glow. And there, in the bathroom (yes! the bathroom!) was a lovely bowl of individually wrapped chocolate truffles on the counter, so guests could sneak a little treat with them after checking their reflections, fixing their lipliner, or straightening a tie.
I was in love with the idea of offering truffles in virtually every room of the party, and since then, have blatantly copied the concept any time I throw a holiday bash. But the truffles themselves were easier to attain, since they came from Canada’s own President’s Choice line. Anyone who lives in Ontario (or has access to the brand) will likely be familiar with these rich little squares, covered in milk chocolate and concealing a mint-chocolate ganache filling.
Now that I can consume neither chocolate nor sugar, I just had to create an ACD friendly version of my own. I think you’ll find these incredibly reminiscent of milk chocolate, and just as irresistible. The insides are a blended-till-silky-smooth mix of coconut, cashews and chocolate (somebody save me), all covered in a thick and intense dark chocolate cloak. The contrast in flavors and textures is enough to make even the richest billionaire swoon.
The next time you throw a holiday party, you can proudly lay these treats out for your guests–in whichever room you choose.
[Didn't I tell you they look like milk chocolate? Rich, minty, smooth. . . heaven.]
“Milk Chocolate” Mint Truffles(ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
The coconut-chocolate combo in the filling really looks like milk chocolate and has a mouthfeel that is very reminiscent of the “real” thing. These truffles are rich and delectable enough to satisfy any chocolate lover in your life! I’m including a more labor-intensive version (my preferred) as well as a quicker and easier version; both are delicious and they are very close in texture.
Filling, Version I (a bit more work, but much more economical):
Make the Filling: Prepare a small square plastic container, single-serving loaf pan, or other small (around 2 cups/500 ml) square container by lining with plastic wrap. Alternately, you could use miniature silicone muffin cups (for round truffles). I used a small square plastic freezer container. Set aside.
For Filling Version One, Proceed as Follows: In a small, heavy-bottomed pot over lowest heat possible, melt the chocolate and coconut oil; set aside.
Place the coconut, cashews, sugar and salt in a high-powered blender (I use my VitaMix) and, using the wand, blend until you have a smooth and semi-liquid coconut-cashew “butter”. Keep blending until it is very smooth and pourable! (The mixture will be very warm at this point).
Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, stevia and peppermint extract and blend again just to combine.
For Filling Version II, Proceed as Follows: In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the coconut butter, cashew butter, coconut sugar, salt and chocolate. Heat over lowest heat possible, stirring constantly, until melted and very smooth. Add the vanilla, stevia and peppermint extract and stir well. (For a glassy-smooth filling, at this point you can pour this mixture into a blender and blend for 30 seconds to smooth out any last remnants of graininess from the coconut sugar. . . but this is totally not necessary–still delicious without!).
For both Versions, Continue as Follows: Pour the mixture into the prepared container and refrigerate until solid, 40-60 minutes. Once solid, invert onto a cutting board lined with plastic and allow to sit for 5 minutes just to soften slightly (it will get soft fairly quickly, but if you cut it right away, it will splinter and crack). Using a very sharp knife, cut into desired number of squares (I made 16; some cracked or broke, so I ended up with about a dozen good squares).
Place the cutting board with the squares on it in the freezer until completely solid, about an hour.
About ten minutes before you will coat the truffles, make the coating.
For Coating Version I, Proceed as Follows: Bring about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water to a boil in a small pot; turn down to lowest heat. Set a glass or metal bowl over the pot (the bowl should be big enough that the bottom isn’t touching the water in the pot) and add the chocolate and coconut oil to the bowl. Allow to sit about 30 seconds, then stir until the chocolate melts. Remove from the pot and whisk in the carob powder and stevia. Mix well to eliminate any lumps.
For Coating Version II, Proceed as Follows: Place the sugar, chocolate and coconut oil in a small, heavy-bottomed pot over lowest heat possible. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and add the stevia; stir until well combined.
To Coat the Truffles: Place the bowl of chocolate on the counter. Get yourself a big, wide-tined fork (I found a good one at the dollar store; any large fork should do).
Bring the board with the cut-out filling to the counter. Working quickly, grab each piece and dip the bottom in the chocolate; let it drip off a bit, then place chocolate side-down onto the board. When they’re all done, return the board to the freezer so the chocolate can firm up a bit (about 5 minutes).
One at a time, place each square chocolate side-down on the fork. Hold the truffle over the bowl and, using a spoon or spatula, spoon more chocolate over the top and sides, allowing excess to drip through the tines of the fork and back into the bowl. Tap the fork on the side of the bowl to remove any excess. At this point, it’s really important to ensure that the entire filling is coated, with no uncovered spots peeking through the chocolate! Slide each truffle off the fork one at a time by pushing it off with the tip of a knife or another fork, and replace them all on the cutting board.
Once all the truffles are coated, you can pop them the fridge to firm up (no need to go back in the freezer at this point).
Once the truffles are firm, you can drizzle any leftover chocolate coating over them to create pretty patterns, or dip a dried cranberry or goji berry in a bit of the leftover chocolate to “glue” it to the top of a truffle as decoration.
Store the truffles in a covered container in the refrigerator. Remove them from the fridge at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the filling inside to soften up for a smoother, more ganache-like consistency. If you’ve covered the entire filling with chocolate, they should be fine at room temperature, as the coating is solid and will prevent any of the filling from oozing out. Makes 12-16 truffles.
Here’s the full lineup of participating sponsors and prizes for Home for the Holidays:
PRINT BOOKS (Cookbooks and Resource Books, or Combos):
–More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow and Totally Together Journal combos–by Stephanie O’Dea, three combos (3) –Simply … Gluten-Free Desserts by Carol Kicinski, 2 signed copies (2) each with a package of Carol’s Gluten-Free Flour mix –Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Pete and Kelli Bronski, one signed copy (1) –Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes by Pete and Kelly Bronski, one signed copy (1) –Gluten-Free Baking for Dummies by Jean Layton and Linda Larsen, one copy (1) (release date Dec. 6) –Gluten-Free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn — 2 copies (2) –Gluten-Free in 5 Minutes by Robin Ryberg — 2 copies (2) –Gluten-Free Makeovers by Beth Hillson – 2 copies (2) –The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam, six signed copies (6) –The Gluten-Free Cupcakes Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam, six signed copies (6) –The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen by Laura B. Russell, two copies (2) –The Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Kitchen by Denise Jardine, ONE EXCLUSIVE ADVANCE COPY (1) –The Pure Kitchen by Hallie Klecker, two copies (2) –Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone, three copies (3) –Free for All Cooking by Jules Shepard, one signed copy (1) –The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten Free: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Jules Shepard, one signed copy –Healthier Without Wheat by Dr. Stephen Wangen, three signed copies (3) –Sugar Nation by Jeffrey O’Connell, four copies (4) –Wheat Belly by William Davis, three copies (3) –Dangerous Grains by Ron Hoggan and Dr. James Braly, two copies (2) –The Food Allergy Kitchen by Amra Ibrismovic and Carmel Nelson, one copy (1) –The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen* by Lévana Kirschenbaum and Lisa R.Young –The Spunky Coconut Cookbook 2nd edition, by Kelly Brozyna, one signed copy (1) –Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts by Kelly Brozyna, one signed copy (1) –Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield, three copies (3) –Go Dairy Free* by Alisa Fleming, two signed copies (2) –Modern Spice by Monica Bhide, one copy (1) (in combo package with Monica’s app, iSPICE) –Perfect One-Dish Dinners* by Pam Anderson, one signed copy (1) –The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Ali Segersten and Tom Malterre, two signed copies (2) –The Steamy Kitchen* by Jaden Hair, one copy (1)
–100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster, one copy (1)
E-BOOKS (Cookbooks and Resource Books)
–Gluten-Free Goddess E-Book:Best Loved Recipes by Karina Allrich (1) –The Gluten-Free Diner Cookbook by Diane Eblin, one copy with tote bag (1) –7 Quick Start Tips for Living a Healthy Gluten-Free Fit Life, by Erin Elberson, five copies (5) –Sweet Freedom*, by Ricki Heller, one copy (1) –Combo Set of following: Good Morning Breakfasts, Desserts Without Compromise, and Anti-Candida Feast Book by Ricki Heller, one copy (1) of set
MAGAZINES–Easy Eats, three subscriptions–electronic (3) –Delight, two subscriptions–print (2) –Living Without, two subscriptions–print (2)
–Cook IT Allergy Free by Kim Wilson-Maes, three apps (3) –iSPICE by Monica Bhide, one app (in combo package with her cookbook, Modern Spice; already mentioned above) (1)
THIRD PRIZE—Caveman Cookies giveaway package ($89 value).One large bag of each of the current three flavors , Original, Tropical, and Alpine ($28.95 value) plus one large bag of the soon-to-be released new flavor, Rainforest ($9.95 value; will be shipped as soon as available; anticipated end of Dec); 1 large variety pack ($32.50 value), and 1 t-shirt ($17.50 value; your size, your color).
It’s just insane how quickly this month is whizzing by–before we know it, it will be 2012!! Okay, I don’t mean to rush things along, or anything. . . . let’s just enjoy the rest of December as best we can. And one thing I truly enjoy is all of your great recipes for Wellness Weekend! Another stellar show of recipes from y’all last week, for sure.
Before I get to today’s lineup, I’ve got a few little announcements to make:’
First, just in case you missed it, this morning marked Week 5 of the “A Gluten Free Holiday” event. I served up some Oatmeal Poppyseed Scones, and I’m giving away TWO cookbooks–Gluten Free and Vegan Holidaysby Jennifer Katzinger, and my own Sweet Freedom. So hop over to this morning’s post and leave a comment, or link up your breakfast recipes to enter to win!
Finally, thank you to everyone who supplied ideas for blog changes to DDD in 2012–I am already working on posts as a result of your suggestions! But I’m still interested in your ideas about topics or pages you’d like to see, what you could live without, what you like best on the blog. Please feel free to leave a comment on the post if you haven’t yet!
And now. . . . what we’ve all been waiting for: the food!
Some highlights from last week, based on the theme of “quick”:
Raspberry Pineapple Smoothie from Wayfaring Chocolate. I love pineapple in, well, just about anything. And this smoothie looks like a snap to prepare.
Warm Pumpkin Porridge from The Gluten Free Edge. This grain-free porridge has been my breakfast (with minor adjustments) three times this past week. Love it. (I add hemp seeds and/or ground coconut as well).
Pomegranate Ice Cream from Gluten Free Pantry. Yes, it’s December and freezing where I live, but this looks so festive, and I adore pomegranate!
Thank you to every one of you who played along by submitting your recipes! I love seeing what you all make each week. I always look forward to seeing what you’ll come up with!
Please join us for Wellness Weekend this weekend! There are so many options for healthy foods. . . whether or not you’re vegan, remember that many salads, veggie side dishes, pasta dishes, desserts, smoothies, and more are naturally vegan and can all be included!
Here’s How to Participate (PLEASE READ THESE GUIDELINES CAREFULLY BEFORE LINKING UP!):
The event occurs once a week, starting Thursdays at 8:00 PM my time and running until Monday at midnight.
Simply link up a recipe you made (and posted about) within the past week that contains health-supporting ingredients (see list below). Use the Linky Tool at the bottom of the page. Please do not link more than once to the same web page!
Please link the post with your recipe, NOT your blog’s home page. The post must contain a recipe.
You may submit more than one recipe, but please follow the guidelines for each one individually. ONLY ONE THUMBNAIL PER POST, PLEASE.
Please be sure to mention this event and include a link back to this post so that others can find all the recipes posted!
Feel free to use the blog badge, above (or see the left sidebar of this page–if you need the html code, let me know and I’ll send it to you). Many thanks to Adrienne of Whole New Mom for setting up the badge code for me!
As always, I hate to remove links, but will do so if they don’t comply with the guidelines.
What your recipe CAN contain:
Any good-for-you, whole foods, especially those with antioxidant properties or “functional foods” (ie, offering naturally medicinal or health-promoting qualities–such as garlic, coconut oil, all vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc.)–but any fresh, real food is welcome!
Natural sweeteners (coconut sugar, agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, stevia, Sucanat, rapadura, coconut nectar, yacon syrup, etc.)
Vegan ingredients (even if you’re not vegan, OF COURSE you can still play along! You’ll be surprised at how many foods are naturally vegan; and if not, there are many subs you can use for eggs, milk or butter–include vegan options and we’re good to go!).
Note that this is NOT AN ACD-ONLY EVENT. Any real food ingredients that are sugar-free and vegan are more than welcome–so use that maple syrup, those mushrooms, that nutritional yeast, miso, etc! I’m just looking for healthy, whole foods recipes.
What your recipe cannot contain:
White flour, white sugar, or any highly refined, highly processed ingredients (note that regular brown sugar is actually refined!);
Anything almost entirely artificial (ie, most boxed mixes, fast food, faux “cheese,” faux “meat,” or margarine, unnaturally colored cereals or other foods, etc.);
Animal products (meat, chicken, fish or seafood, or their by-products, gelatin, eggs, dairy, butter or honey).
“Hey! Why was my entry removed?”
The most common reason entries are removed is because they don’t adhere to the guidelines:either they don’t contain a link back to this post, they contain ingredients that aren’t listed here, they are a re-post of a blog entry that is more than one week old, or they contain neither a recipe nor anything directly related to food preparation. If you render a recipe vegan-friendly by adding a vegan option to your ingredients, your post will be good to go! For older posts, you’re welcome to re-post them during the week of the event, or choose a newer recipe.
Another reason posts are removed is because the link leads to an advertisement or a business blog. Please do NOT link up posts that are merely referrals to a different post or the home page for another blog event.
Only one thumbnail per post, please. If your post contains two suitable recipes, link up once and people will still see all your fabulous recipes when they click on the linky.
I hate to have to remove links! PLEASE read the guidelines before posting!
NOTE: A few of you have mentioned problems linking up in the past couple of weeks because of the backlink requirement. If the linky won’t work for you, please let me know so I can tell the Linky Tools owner and the problem can be fixed!
Welcome to Week V of A Gluten-Free Holiday, the event conceived by Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, designed to bring you lots of GF holiday food ideas every Thursday right through to Christmas! This week’s topic is Breakfasts and Brunch–so of course, I just *had* to volunteer to host this one. It’s no secret that breakfast is my very favorite meal of the day! I’ve got a new favorite recipe to share, too (at the end of this post).
Here at A Gluten-Free Holiday, we’re giving away two cookbooks today–both filled with yummy vegan recipes! For information about how to enter to win, keep on reading! Here’s what’s on offer this week:
One reader will win a copy of Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten Free and Vegan Holidays. This book offers recipes for holidays throughout the year. I took a peek on amazon.com and it looks like a beautiful book!
And. . . .
A second reader is eligible to win a copy of my book, Sweet Freedom! (If you eat gluten-free, please note that only about 30% of the recipes in the book are gluten free; the rest use spelt and/or barley flours. You can always replace those with all-purpose GF flour, however; I’ve tried it on more than a dozen recipes and it works just fine!). All the recipes are free of refined sugars, wheat, eggs and dairy.
Here’s How to Enter the Giveaway:
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite breakfast food is. And please do feel free to link up your own recipes so that others can find some inspiration as well! Every recipe you link counts as an extra entry.
You can also enter again with any or all of the following additional methods. For each one, please come back and leave a separate comment telling me that you did so:
The first time I ate home-baked scones was a bit of a revelation for me. I was in Windsor, Ontario, visiting my former university room mate over the Christmas holidays. After an afternoon spent chattering like hungry chipmunks, we relaxed over a homecooked dinner of lasagna and one too many glasses of wine before calling it a night. I awoke the next morning to the characteristic hissing and bubbling of the coffee maker, my nose leading me toward the beckoning aromas in the kitchen. There at the counter was my roomie (let’s call her Marilyn) slicing cinnamon scones from a pan, setting them on plates and topping each with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. She proffered a mug of java and a plate; the biscuit was still warm, the cream melting and beginning to run in rivulets down the sides of the pastry.
I was in awe: you mean you could make those things from scratch?
In school, Marilyn was a lively, chatty woman with a hearty laugh, someone who embodied the term “joie de vivre“; clearly, she loved life. Also, she loved men. She loved everything about them, and she made it look so easy: chatting was easy, laughing was easy, dating was easy–in word, Marilyn was easy.
Marilyn had perfected the art of flirting and could attract more men in five minutes than the words I could type in that time span (and I’m a pretty fast typist. Then again, Marilyn was pretty fast, too.). But apart from her social talents, who would guess that she could bake as well? I mean, one doesn’t usually associate scones and sex (though I suppose that whipped cream is another matter altogether.). Once she shared the recipe with me as she baked up a fresh batch, I was astounded at how simple it was to whip up such delicious delicacies by hand.
I transcribed the recipe (which, as I recall, made use of an alarming amount of Crisco shortening), and once I returned to Toronto, I went to town baking scones. I haven’t lost my admiration since.
A few weeks ago, I spied a recipe for Oatmeal Poppyseed Biscuits in an in-house magazine put out by one of our local supermarkets. My thoughts turned to a bulk bag of poppyseeds I’d bought a while back, sitting abandoned in the back of my cupboard, and I decided to whip up my own, ACD-friendly, version of the biscuits.
I couldn’t be happier with this recipe. The biscuits rise high and light, with a delicate crumb that’s just sturdy enough for slathering with coconut butter or homemade cranberry-apple compote. The oats add a lovely textural contrast and an alternate kind of flakiness, that you might find in butter-laden ones.
The HH adored these little cakes and quickly scarfed down two of them.
“So, can I have another one of those?” he asked, the plate already in his hand, outstretched toward the cookie sheet.
I laughed and glanced back at him from my post at the kitchen table, where I was laying out the cakes to photograph them. ”Ah, we’ll have to see,” I teased, lowering my chin and batting my eyelashes. “I’ll consider giving you a taste, but then what will you give me?” (Hmm. Could it be Marilyn taught me more than simply how to make scones?).
He raised an eyebrow and smiled a crooked smile. “Your wish is my command,” he replied.
Oatmeal Poppyseed Scones (suitable for ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
These are a perfect addition to your weekend breakfast or brunch. The dough comes together incredibly quickly, and the scones can go from idea to table for a freshly baked, warm and inviting breadstuff in under 30 minutes.
2/3 cup (160 ml) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cook)
1 Tbsp (30 ml) poppy seeds
2-1/2 tsp (12. 5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1 tsp (5 ml) xanthan gum
3 Tbsp (45 ml) solid (cold) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic, plus an extra 1 Tbsp (15 ml), melted, for brushing tops of scones
3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
enough unsweetened plain or vanilla soy or almond milk to make 2/3 cup (160 ml) with the vinegar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
10-15 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
Preheat oven to 425F (220 C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, poppyseeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum; whisk to blend. Stir in the oats and set aside.
Pour the apple cider vinegar into a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 2/3 cup (160 ml) total. Add the vanilla and stevia and stir to blend. Set aside.
Drop the coconut oil in chunks over the flour in the bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a wide-tined fork, cut the oil into the flour to create pea-sized bits (don’t over mix the oil into the flour–it’s okay if there is still a lot of flour that’s not mixed with the oil). Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and quickly toss with a fork until it comes together in a rather soft dough.
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop the dough and place mounds on the cookie sheet. Use a floured hand or the back of a silicone spatula to gently flatten the top of each scone. Melt the final tbsp (15 ml) of oil and gently brush the scones with oil. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack. Serve warm with coconut butter or jam (or both). Makes 6-8 biscuits. May be frozen.
If you’re interested in previous Gluten Free Holiday posts, here’s what’s been going on so far:
Happy Monday, everyone! It’s also the beginning of the final month of the year–a perfect time for some announcements and updates (plus a request for your help–see last item in this post!). With so much going on here at DDD these days, I thought I’d take the opportunity to collate some items in a single post. But I warn you, this is a long’un–so grab a Carob Chai Latte (or, if you prefer, a glass of Holiday Nog), put your feet up, and read on!
Yes, that’s right: it’s been so chaotically busy over here that I completely neglected to post the winner of last week’s giveaway! As I mentioned last week, the book is great for anyone who eats gluten-free, and also contains a good number of vegan recipes. And I loved the Beet Tagine! A random selection from all entries resulted in a winner:
Number 8: Rick–the Health Sleuth! Rick’s comment: “I have never had tagine, omg i would love this cookbook! please add me to the contest!”
Congratulations, Rick! Please email me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom with your full name and address, and I’ll be sure the book gets out to you asap!
I’m giddy with excitement that I’ll be among the presenters at the brand new Nourished food bloggers’ conference, coming to Chicago in April 2012! The conference is the brainchild of Amy Green from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, plus Jen Cafferty, the woman behind the Gluten and Allergen-Free Expos and the blog Gluten-Free Life. The conference is the first of its kind, “tailored exclusively to the needs of those on special diets, writing about special diets, and niche bloggers.” These days, that includes more and more of us!
Some of the confirmed speakers who will guide you toward more fun, effective and popular food blogging include Susan Voisin of Fatfree Vegan Kitchen (one of my vegan blogging idols!), Silvana Nardone of Silvana’s Kitchen, Dianne Jacob of Will Write for Food and Cybele Pascal, renowned allergen-free cookbook author. I’m thrilled that I’ll finally get to meet so many of my blogging colleagues at the conference as well–and I do hope I get to meet some of you, too!
Free Ticket Giveaway! I’d love if you can make it out to Chicago next April and join in the event. The conference founders want you to be there, too, so they’re holding a giveaway for a free ticket to the conference, until Decmeber 8th! There’s still time to enter to win a free ticket. Hop over to the Nourished blog and leave a comment to enter.
III. Osteopenia Update:
Holistic Approach, -1.3; Conventional Approach, -2.2 (or, a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bone Density Test)
Some of you may remember my outrage a couple of years ago when my doctor unceremoniously informed me that I had osteopenia (a decrease in bone density that can be a precursor to osteoporosis). As a person who studied holistic nutrition and takes pains to eat a balanced diet of whole, natural foods, I was appalled that I could even fall within that category (or anywhere else, in fact, since I’d probably fracture a hip or something if I did fall). Last year’s results were even more dire: my T Score clocked in at -2.2, just a hair’s breadth away from full-on osteoporosis!!
As a perpetual student who’s been accustomed to doing well on tests, I was really ticked off at that abysmal score. Since I was in the midst of battling candida with my amazing naturopath at the time (I’ve subsequently continued the battle on my own), the first thing I did at our next appointment was ask how I could reverse the diagnosis. (I had asked the same question of my family doctor as well, of course, but her response was: “There is no way to reverse it. The best you can hope for is that it doesn’t get worse. And if it does get worse, we’ll have to put you on Fosamax.”).
Well, um, no thank you. Instead, my naturopath explained that “It’s not always what you’re eating that matters so much as how much you absorb from what you’re eating.” In other words, women who take 2000 mg of supplemental calcium a day could still end up with osteoporosis if their bodies aren’t able to absorb and actually use that calcium.
As a result, my naturopath designed a specific nutritional plan which I’ve been following for the the past year. The plan aims to (a) clear out as much of the candida as possible (I’m about 90% there); (b) improve my digestion; (c) increase my intake of the minerals essential for a healthy bone matrix through supplements; and (d) increase my intake of specific foods that help to build bones as well. I also committed to exercising 6 days a week, walking and lifting weights every day.
So, how did I do? I’m happy to report that I’ve been totally consistent taking my supplements; I endeavor to drink wheat grass juice daily (I actually like the taste of the fresh stuff); and I consume dark leafys at least once a day. I’ve managed to keep up with the exercise routine about 80% of the time as well (I will occasionally slip to 4 or 5 days a week).
I had my latest bone density test a couple of months ago. I found it odd that I didn’t hear back from the doctor’s office, so I decided to take the initiative and call them. The secretary (who read out my numbers to me over the phone) was clearly astounded when she compared them to last year’s digits: my score had risen from -2.2 to -1.3, moving me to the low-risk group (less than 10% risk for fracture)! Whoo hoo! The Mighty Kale triumphs again!*
I must admit, I’m not sure which was more satisfying about the results: the fact that my bones are now stronger (which means I needn’t worry as much about falling while walking the dogs over ice and snow in winter); or (once again) proving to my doctor that natural, nutrient-based “medicine” can work as well as, or better than, the conventional kind.
For once in my life, I don’t mind being called “dense.” To celebrate my healthier status, I whipped up this calcium-rich smoothie the other day. Combined with cranberries and pears, it’s both festive and nourishing. Hooray for holistic medicine! (See recipe at end of post).
IV. A Question–for All of You.
This last section is directed at all of you–all of the wonderful and much-appreciated readers who visit DDD on a regular basis. More than anything, I write this blog for all of you. Without your presence here, without you showing up regularly and reading; without your insightful, witty, supportive and empathic comments; without your feedback and input, this blog would really have very little reason for existing at all.
With the new year just beyond the horizon, I’ve been feeling a little restless with the blog and thinking about implementing some changes. In some ways, it seems I’ve lost sight of the original cornerstones of DDD and the types of posts that served to build the blog from the beginning. Too often, the focus has shifted toward events and giveaways–and, while I really do enjoy the latter, I don’t want to overlook the former.
So, I’ve decided to ask you what YOU would like to see on the blog. I’m posting three questions below, and I’d love to know your answers to one, two or all three, as you like. Instead of a survey, I’m asking that you simply leave your ideas in the comments section, and feel free to write about anything I may have forgotten to mention as well. Here goes:
Question One: If I revamped the blog, which sections or aspects of the blog are essential to keep? (Wellness Weekend? Stories? Recipes? Giveaways? The Girls’ input?) Let me know what you’d like to see remain as fundamental elements on the blog, or what you’d want to see more of!
Question Two: Is there anything on the blog you feel could be eliminated? (Wellness Weekend? Stories? Giveaways? Tabs at the top of the page? –etc.) If there’s something you feel isn’t necessary, is merely taking up space or simply bugs you, take note of it in the comments as well!
Question Three: Is there anything not already here that you’d like to see added to the blog? Is there a particular feature or specific content that you wish I’d add? If so, let me know!
I plan to introduce some updates and changes to the blog in the new year. Look forward to improvements and a sharper look as well!
Thanks, everyone, for your help! I can’t wait to hear what you think and read through your ideas.
And if you’ve made it this far, I think you deserve a reward! How about a big, frosty Cranberry Smoothie? Enjoy!
“Mum, a new look for the blog is a great idea. But you’re not seriously thinking of getting rid of US, are you?! Besides, ‘Diet, Dessert and HH’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it. . . . Mum?”
Calcium-Rich Cranberry Smoothie
A snap to whip up, this smoothie makes a refreshing breakfast (or any time) drink, with just the right amount of sweetness. Sesame seeds are high in calcium, as are almonds, and both will add creaminess to this drink as well.
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened soy, almond, rice or hemp milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 pear, cored (you can keep the skin on)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sesame seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) raw natural almonds
1 scoop plain or vanilla rice-based protein powder (I use BioNature)
1 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled
15-25 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately. Makes one serving.
* When my friend Eternal Optimist, who has also been diagnosed with osteopenia, heard about this reversal of fortune, she decided immediately to go on the same regimen. I can’t wait to see how her results turn out next year.
Welcome to Week 4 of A Gluten-Free Holiday, the blog event created by Amy to share gluten-free recipes throughout the holiday period this year! After a little break for American Thanksgiving last week, we’re back today with Holiday Entrées and Sides (which I’m interpreting to include soups as well), hosted by Hallie at Daily Bites. Before I get to today’s recipe, however, let me tell you about the book that Hallie is giving away:
The Pure Kitchenis Hallie’s recently-released cookbook filled with recipes made from real, natural, whole foods! All the recipes are free of gluten and dairy, and many are also vegan. I tested out the Moroccan Millet and Butternut Squash Pilaf (which I wrote about here), and was entirely impressed! To enter the giveaway, skip over to Hallie’s blog and leave a comment or link up your own recipe for a holiday side or entrée!
* * * * * * * *
Before I met the HH, he was a culinary vagabond, a peripatetic bon vivant who spent his evenings wandering from one acclaimed restaurant to the next. The HH, you see, ate almost all of his meals in restaurants in the days before our romance blossomed in the late 1990s (and I’ve written before how he once lived for two years in an apartment and turned the stove on exactly once.). As soon as he acquired his first paying job, he sought out the food of professional chefs daily (apparently Mum’s cooking wasn’t exactly all that enticing). By the time he reached his mid-20s, the HH had dined at every upscale eatery in the city and was a “regular” at hot spots like Bemelman’s, Le Trou Normand, the Courtyard Café or Joe Allen. His favorite meals consisted of thick, full-cream sauces atop butter-basted scallops; juicy pan-fried shrimp; or, as often as possible, near-blue filet mignon. (I know, it’s a miracle we two ever got together, isn’t it?).
Despite his gourmet palate, the HH’s salary was that of any other regular twenty-something, which meant that these gastronomic adventures often consumed most, if not all, of his weekly income. Given the choice between fine dining and new shoes, the HH invariably chose to endure wet feet in the rain. In fact, he was probably the only “regular” patron whose shoes were more worn than those of the wait staff!
These days, with his restaurant ramblings severely restricted (even if we could afford to dine out more often, there are precious few places that can accommodate my bizarre dietary restrictions), the HH sometimes reminisces about those halycon days when all the food he ate took a full day to prepare and was cooked by someone else. Once in a while, he asks whether I might be able to re-create one of those long-ago favorites. As a result, I spent one summer blending at least a dozen different takes on gazpacho; I’ve also toyed with endless variations on coconut cream pie.
One of my honey’s most-requested recipes is vichychoisse. Myself, I’m not a huge fan (in my mind, cold potatoes belong huddled in big chunks in a large bowl, swathed in may0-based dressing with dill and some green peas for your summertime family BBQ, thank you very much), but I did think that a warmed version would be lovely.
I subscribe to the McDougall e-newletter and always browse the recipe section with great anticipation. Their newsletter provided the basis for one of my all-time favorite sides, the Crazy Simple Kale Salad. Their most recent publication didn’t disappoint, either: there, tucked between Mashed Potato with Carrot and Chilled Melon Soup, was a recipe for an unusual potato soup. What made this one different? A secret ingredient that rendered it both substantial and silky.
I couldn’t resist, of course. I took the idea and ran cooked with it. I created my own version of a healthier vichyssoise, one that gains its luxurious texture from a surprising addition–oats. When I served up a bowl of the soup, I didn’t tell the HH about the secret ingredient (he’s kind of getting used to foods that aren’t what they appear to be). He slid the spoon into the plush, velvety base and then into his mouth. He seemed to contemplate the soup for a moment, shutting his eyes and pursing his lips. Then he smiled and nodded.
“Mmmm, yes, this is great,” he finally said. “You know, I bet you could serve this soup in a fine vegan restaurant!”
Did you hear that? That’s how far my sweetie has come–from Coquilles St. Jacque at Le Trou Normand to Vegan Leek and Potato Soup at Chez DDD–and the first restaurant that popped into his mind was a vegan one!
Well, it may not be classic vichyssoise, but this soup has quickly become one of the HH’s favorites. If you’re looking for a smooth, luscious first course for a holiday meal–and a restaurant-worthy one at that–do give it a try.
Previous posts in this Gluten-Free Holiday series include:
And next week, I’ll be hosting with a new giveaway and a Holiday Breakfast and Brunch recipe!
Don’t forget to pop over to Hallie’s blog if you’d like to enter the giveaway!
“Hey, Mum, you know that we can be peripatetic, too, right? And we can do it on eight legs! Oh, and if Dad’s not going to be eating that filet mignon any more, I think we might be able to help. . . . ”
A terrifically easy soup that combines the nutritional value of potatoes with the additional B vitamins of oats. The texture will have you thinking there’s cream in the soup–all without any cholesterol at all.
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
5 large white or yellow potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
4 cups (1 liter) vegetable broth or stock
1/3 cup (80 ml) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cook)
fine sea salt, to taste
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened almond, soy or hemp milk
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until the leeks are translucent, 5-8 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients except the almond milk and increase the heat to medium high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 20-25 minutes. Stir in the almond milk. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
Purée the mixture with a hand blender or in a regular blender or food processor, in batches if necessary (take care not to burn yourself on the hot soup!). Return the mixture to the pot and heat over low heat until warmed through. Serve with crusty bread. Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen (defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then heat gently before serving).