Unlike many people, I’ve never really thought of carob as a replacement for chocolate (even though I did end up creating a “faux chocolate” recipe with it when I first started the ACD).
In general, I think it’s better to remain 100% of what one really is than be 75% of something or someone else. The last time I tried to imitate another person’s style was back in high school, when I donned embroidered Lee overalls, grew my hair long and painted a little flower on my cheek so I could be more like my then-idol, The Nurse. I ended up catching my hair in the overall’s buckles and losing a fairly large chunk of it. I was decidedly not a happy little hippie.
[A batch made with unsweetened carob chips added.]
Similarly, there are certain foods that are frequently considered inferior versions of something else. For years, margarine was the poor relation of butter (of course, after that it went through the very popular “cholesterol-free-even-though-hydrogenated-but-we-don’t-know-that-it’s-bad-for-you-yet-so-let’s-all-eat-margarine” phase, before it evolved to the “margarine-is-the-devil-real-butter-is-better-than-trans-fat-full-spreads” and finally “let’s-make-trans-fat-free-margarine-but-it’s-still-a-chemical-so-let’s-continue-to-eat-real-fats-once-again” phase). Or how about the debate over whether tofu can be used to impersonate meat in vegan dishes? And years ago, when I decided to enjoy Segura Viudas as a favorite Cava, I was informed rather undiplomatically by one acquaintance that “it’s not real champagne, you know.” (I did know. I loved it anyway.).
This recipe was inspired by one I found in a very old cookbook of mine, called The Alternative Chocolate Cookbook (see, even culinary professionals view carob as a chocolate pretender). I’ve completely revamped the recipe so it’s gluten free, sugar free and vegan–in fact, the only thing I didn’t change was the spotlight on carob–to create a light, crisp cookie with just a hint of chewiness inside, very much like a sugar cookie. A whisper of cinnamon helps to emphasize carob’s natural sweetness, with just enough coconut sugar and stevia to make this sweet enough to qualify as “cookie.”
If you’ve been thinking of carob as a lesser form of chocolate, now’s the time to appreciate this lovely, slightly fruity, barely sweet legume for its own merits. Sort of the way moms appreciate their children.
Light and not too sweet, these cookies are perfect for an afternoon snack with tea or as the base for sandwich cookies. Made without the chips, they’d be great crumbled for a tart or pie crust.
1/4 cup (40 g) lightly packed coconut sugar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water
20-25 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic, melted (I used refined so there would be no coconut flavor, but these would still be great with a hint of coconut)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
3 Tbsp (45 ml) carob powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened carob chips, optional
3.2 ounces (90 g) all-purpose GF flour mix (2/3-1 cup, depending on the mix–I used Amy’s Basic GF Flour Blend, which equaled 2/3 cup; other flours will yield different volumes for the same weight)
In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, water, vanilla and stevia so that the sugar begins to dissolve. Add the coconut oil and whisk vigorously to combine, or beat with electric beaters (it’s okay if the mixture appears curdled). Mix in the flax seeds.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, carob powder, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir to create a slightly sticky dough. If using the carob chips, add them now. Create a roll about 8 inches (20.5 cm) long, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. (If you’re in a rush, you can freeze the log for about 15 minutes, until firm, then proceed).
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Using a sharp knife, cut cookies about 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick and place about an inch (2.5 cm) apart on the cookie sheet. If the dough cracks or if the cookies are squished when cutting, press with your fingers to re-shape into circles.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet about halfway through, until cookies are slightly puffed and lightly browned on the bottom. Cool 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container. Makes 12-16 cookies. May be frozen.
FIRST THINGS FIRST–A BIG “THANK YOU”: Before I get to all the “hemp in brownies” jokes (and you know that I will), I wanted to post a quick update about my absence this past week and express my thanks to all of you.
A huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of you who commented, who emailed, who tweeted or who sent your good wishes for my dad (and me) on Facebook. I was incredibly touched by the outpouring of sympathy and all the positive energy and virtual hugs that were sent my way. I appreciate all of your support more than I can say.
And guess what? It worked! After a hellish (or should that be “Heller-ish?”) week in the hospital, my dad is now stable and was flown home to Montreal yesterday. We are waiting to hear from the doctors about whether he’ll be sent to rehab (aka convalescent home) or something else. Given that he had a heart attack followed by emergency surgery to unblock an artery (and a stent inserted in said artery), he is doing amazingly well. I will still likely be travelling back and forth between Toronto and Montreal most weekends, though, so I may not be posting quite as regularly.
But for now–we can celebrate with brownies! This is a recipe I developed before I left but never had a chance to post. Apart from the obvious associations of hemp in brownies, I’m calling these “Happy Brownies” because they represent the happy outcome after my dad’s ordeal.
And for anyone who suspects that hemp brownies are truly a throwback to the 60s, let me say, first of all, that the hemp seeds in these are the edible kind, so you are not ingesting any mind-altering chemicals whatsoever here (unless you count the flood of serotonins in the brain due to their heavenly taste); and second of all, hemp is not the same thing as hash, and of course the classic hippie confection was a hash brownie; and third of all, how the heck would I even know, because I never did manage to consume any of the latter, even in my undergrad days, because I am such a nerd that nobody ever offered me any, and hash brownies never appealed to me, anyway–I mean, why sully your chocolate with psychedelic drugs?
These ethereal little bites came about a few weeks ago when I decided to recreate a packaged product I found in the health food store. I know there are lots of blogs and websites out there attempting to reproduce other foods; for example, this site recreates restaurant meals; this one tries to recreate convenience foods; this one converts elaborate omni meals into vegan ones; and so on. While I do, occasionally, find inspiration in restaurant meals, I am not one of those people who makes a point of creating a copycat version of something I’ve eaten.
Having said that, though, I nevertheless sometimes feel the need to develop my own take on a food because (a) I just love it so much that I want it again at home; (b) I may not be able to access it in stores where I live; or (c) I am so ticked off at the price of the original item (and I know I could probably reproduce something almost the same at home) that I feel I should do so.
These hemp brownies fall into that last category. You see, there exists a grain-free, sugar-free, vegan hemp brownie already right here in Toronto, and it’s available in single serving packs at most health food stores. The other day, I was shopping at Ambrosia (I swear, they should just put out a cot in one of the aisles for me) and saw these little squares. The ingredients were almonds, hemp, agave nectar, cocoa, palm oil, soda–and that’s about it.
The brownie was really good–surprisingly fudgy, in fact–and it contained ingredients I could (at least occasionally) eat. I bought it despite the $1.99 price for a teensy, tinesy, terribly wee piece (about 2″ x 1.5″, or 5 cm x 3.8 cm). Then I went home and started playing in the kitchen.
Well, I daresay I like my version better than the original. Mine possess a dryer, slightly crispy exterior and a dense, fudgy, moist interior. The flavor intensifies and blossoms as they cool–I tried one warm (the way I used to like “regular” brownies) but it was too soft in the middle and the chocolate flavor didn’t speak loudly enough. But upon cooling, those characteristics changed entirely. The HH (the arbiter of all things healthy and GF) decided that they were as good as any brownie he’d ever tasted.
Given that I first created the recipe a few weeks ago, there remains not one of these little gems left in my refrigerator. But with the happy, healthy vibes buzzing throughout the house today, I may just have to whip up another batch in celebration of my dad’s return home. Given his age and current condition, though, I’d better not tell him they contain hemp.
Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
These brownies are a perfect little treat for after school, with tea, or when you want a little pick-me-up. The combination of almonds and hemp seeds provides a good hit of protein, making these a healthy indulgence.
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut sugar
30-35 drops liquid vanilla stevia, to your taste
3 Tbsp (45 ml) water
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp (20 ml) olive or nut oil (I used macadamia nut; walnut oil would be great in these, too)
1 cup (160 g) raw natural almonds, with skin
1/4 heaping cup (30 g) hemp seeds
2 heaping Tbsp (15 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Ideally, line 9 mini muffin cups with mini paper liners. If you can’t find or don’t have the liners, spray nine compartments of a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray or grease with coconut oil, then dust with cocoa. Tap out any excess cocoa by inverting the pan and tapping on the bottom of each compartment; place upright and set aside.
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the coconut sugar, vanilla, water and oil and stir to begin dissolving the sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, whir together the remaining ingredients until you have what looks like a powder (there should be no pieces of almond or hemp seed visible–this may take a few minutes). Add the wet ingredients and blend for a second or two, just until combined. Scrape the sides of the processor bowl if necessary.
Using a small scoop or tablespoon, divide the batter (it will be thick and sticky) evenly among the the muffin cups; they should be very full. Bake in preheated oven 15-18 minutes, until a tester comes out just clean (it’s okay if it still has a few moist crumbs clinging to it). Allow to cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely before consuming (if you can stand it). Makes nine two-bite brownies. May be frozen.
When I was growing up, “Chinese Food” meant gelatinous, hot pink chicken and pineapple balls, chop suey (bean sprouts, frozen peas and carrots and some white rice in soy sauce), and egg rolls as greasy as Elvis’s pompadour. It wasn’t until my undergraduate years at the University of Windsor that I first tasted authentic Chinese food.
I know, Windsor, Ontario doesn’t exactly strike one as the hub of all things Oriental. In those days, though, Windsor was (and for all I know, may still be) the Canadian college with the largest percentage of Chinese students (at about 45%). Why? There were many theories (such as “ it’s a great way to get into the States, being so close”; or “it has the lowest standard for English-as-a-second-language requirements”), but my favorite was “it’s the southernmost city in Canada (further south than its American cousin, Detroit), so when potential students consulted a map, they likely decided it must also be the warmest city and chose it before all others.
(All I can say is, it’s been winter since the end of October. So, how do you like Windsor now?)
Perhaps surprisingly, my entrée into the world of authentic Chinese dining was facilitated not by a Chinese person, but a native (Caucasian) Windsorite.
RB, a fellow undergraduate English major, was much taller than I at 5 feet 7 inches (just over 170 cm) and had what we call “big-bones.” Yet she also somehow always struck me as fragile. With impeccable posture, she trailed a mane of undulating, naturally auburn hair; and her skin was so pale, smooth and translucent it reminded me of my mom’s antique teacups. While not classically “pretty,” RB was certainly uniquely attractive. Even her voice, quiet and steady like a breeze in autumn, seemed too soft for the heft of her body. When she spoke it was barely above a whisper.
But it wasn’t her physical attributes of which I was envious; it was her mind. You see, RB was another protégé of my mentor, Dr. Ditsky, and he frequently called on her in class to “save us” when no one volunteered to answer his question (when he called on me for the same purpose, my cheeks usually flushed red and I stammered something unintelligible). But RB always rose to the challenge, fairly offering a lecture of her own on occasion.
RB was, quite simply, brilliant. Like, Bill Gates brilliant. Mozart brilliant. Marilyn Vos Savant brilliant. A Beautiful Mindbrilliant (well, without the encrypted magazine articles and hallucinatory FBI agents, of course).
I will never forget her final essay for our Faulkner course: a 50-odd page treatise on “Deconstructing The Sound and the Fury: Parallels and Pedantry in Godel, Escher, Bach.” Well, I, too, had purchased Godel, Escher, Bach out of curiosity (like the rest of the academic population in the 1980s) and could barely get through the first 10 pages (even that took me a couple of hours). Yet here was RB, composing an entire essay (which, presumably, she actually understood!) that used it as a basis for comparison.
RB also had the ability to acquire information–particularly languages–as easily as I acquired cookbooks. She loved the fact that Windsor was an “international” city welcoming people from all over the world. One day, she decided that she loved Chinese culture the most. Within a couple of months, she was teaching herself Cantonese with the aid of tapes and a book. I’d notice her hunched over a table in the cafeteria, madly scribbling little curlicues and pictograms across her notebooks. She’d emit guttural sounds in the back of her throat as she walked by in the hallways. After another couple of months, her gorgeous auburn hair had been shorn in a tight pageboy and dyed jet black. If there had existed a counterpart to gender reassignment surgery called “Cultural Reassignment surgery,”her name would have been at the top of the list.
Eventually, RB married a man from Hong Kong whom she’d met at a dim sum restaurant. (She was writing a postcard–in Chinese–to a friend as he walked by; he glanced at the card, asked, “Do you actually understand that stuff?” and when she nodded, he sat down to join her. Less than a year later they were married.)
[It may not be a whole lotus bean inside, but it's still delicious.]
Given her affinity for all things Chinese, it’s no wonder that RB eventually took me to her favorite spot for Dim Sum. Right there on Wyandotte Street, just steps from the university dormitory, was a fantastic dim sum restaurant. It was so authentic, in fact, that none of the servers really spoke English, and orders were given by patrons who wrote their choices (in Chinese) on little slips of paper. Of course, RB was proficient in the language, so she served as translator and placed the order.
I won’t dwell on the meal itself, which involved various steamed buns, pan-fried dumplings, noodles and RB’s favorite–chicken feet. (The image of her sucking on their splayed, pointy tips will forever be branded in my memory). But it was the dessert that proved to be a revelation. That day was the first time I tried steamed lotus seed buns, and I ate them every time I could after that. The white, spongey and barely sweet buns encased a whole lotus bean, cooked until soft and squishy. Imagine, if you will, a medjool date that’s even softer and sweeter than normal, served slightly warm and caramelized–that’s what the lotus bean tasted like. I loved them instantly. When I moved to Toronto with its three Chinatowns, I anticipated more of the same, and was sadly disappointed to learn that the buns made here, while tasty, contained red bean paste instead of lotus seeds.
Well, today’s SOS offering is my take on that pastry. I had actually attempted a steamed bun first (based on this recipe–which, I later realized, is Japanese), but steaming instead of frying resulted in a mess of white and red goo, a little too reminiscent of the goo splattered all over Tommy Lee Jones when Will Smith shoots the alien at the end of Men in Black. Attempt number two involved actually frying the balls as directed–I was going to beg your forgiveness if they worked out–but those, alas, were also fairly gooey inside, very greasy on the outside, and clearly not orb-like.
So, I went back to what I do better: cookies! In keeping with the Asian theme, I used rice flour (two types) filled with red bean paste. The cookie itself is crisp and light, while the dense paste inside provides a pleasant surprise with its textural contrast. And while they’re not authentic, they were delicious. I bet even RB would approve.
Chinese-Style Bean Pastry Cookies (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
These cookies provide a little pocket of smooth, sweet bean paste inside a crisp, light cookie casing. To make them this small may seem too fussy for everyday cookies; if you’d rather, place a layer of dough in a parchment-lined loaf pan, spread with paste, then more dough; bake and cut in squares for an easier treat.
For the bean filling:
1 cup (240 ml) cooked adzuki beans, well drained
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar or vegetable glycerin
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
10-20 drops vanilla or plain stevia liquid, to your taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk
1/4 tsp (1 ml) pure stevia powder or 15-20 drops liquid, to your taste
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp (20 ml) ground chia seeds or meal (if you grind your own, use 2 tsp/10 ml whole seeds)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic, soft (I prefer refined for this as it is tasteless; but unrefined is nice, too)
1/2 cup (70 g) brown rice flour
1/4 cup (30 g) sweet rice flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sesame seeds, optional
Make the filling:
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Turn the mixture into a small pot and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut oil, stir well to combine evenly, and keep stirring until you have a thick paste that begins to look slightly glossy. Remove from heat and allow to cool. NOTE: This makes about twice as much filling as you’ll need. You can try halving the recipe, but when I did so, it didn’t cook up quite the same way. Instead, you can form the filling into a disk, freeze it, and use it for cookies later on. Or, form into balls, coat in melted unsweetened chocolate, and enjoy red bean truffles!
Make the dough:
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, mix the coconut sugar, soymilk, stevia, vanilla, chia and vinegar. Stir for 30 seconds or so to allow the sugar to begin to dissolve. Add the coconut oil and cream well. Sift in the remaining ingredients and stir to form a fairly firm dough (you may need to knead it with your hands). It should be moist but fairly firm.
Assemble the cookies:
Roll out the dough until it is very thin, about 1/8 inch (3 mm). Cut into small circles about 1-1/2 inches (3.75 cm) big. You should have about 32 circles.
Place about 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) of the paste in the center of one circle of dough; top with another circle. Pinch edges all around to seal in the bean paste (be sure there are no openings or your cookies will leak when they bake!). Gently form into a round disk. Dip one side of the disk in the seeds; place seed side up on cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, until bottoms are deep golden brown and cookies are firm. Remove from oven and cool completely before transferring to a covered container. Makes 16 pastries. May be frozen.
Thanks to everyone who submitted a stevia-based recipe for February’s SOS Kitchen Challenge! As always, we received a stellar collection of recipes.
Here’s the “Sweet”:
Kim and I were blown away by the creativity in the “sweet” section of the event this past month. While I have added every single recipe to my “to try” list, some that stood out as particularly enticing were
Aren’t they beautiful? I bet they’d win anyone’s heart!
And now, for the “Savory”. . . .
Um. . . well, er. . . what the–HUH??
It appears that there was only one savory recipe in the list apart from my own Crunchy Green Salad! I guess most people consider stevia a “sweet-only” ingredient, but if you think about all the savory recipes made with a dash of sugar or honey, you’ll begin to understand the wide range of recipes that can include stevia. I hope you’ll try out some savory variations in the future!
*Or, It’s almost Valentine’s Day–time for bad puns!
When I was a teenager, I believed Valentine’s Day was all about romance–and the fact that I didn’t have a sweetheart with whom to be romantic. I’d sit at home listening to (Rod Stewart’s version of) The First Cut is the Deepeston my parents’ console stereo in our living room, fantasizing about tall, dark, handsome strangers who’d present me with a dozen long-stemmed roses; or dashing, rakish strangers (who happened to own their own chartered jets) who would sweep me off my feet and fly me to Paris for brunch. In reality, I was spending the evening alone, feeling sorry for myself and, mostly, wondering why I didn’t have a boyfriend. My parents, of course, were out for the evening, with each other–since it was Valentine’s Day.
Once I met my friend Sterlin in grade nine, she and I began to spend our Valentines Days together, watching old movies on TV and ruminating about why neither one of us had a boyfriend. One of our best February 14ths was the year they decided to broadcast that old Susan Hayward classic,I Want to Live, on TV. (You see, Oh Younger Readers, those were the days before the advent of PVRs–or even VCRs–in every home, and we were dependent upon the whims of the Great TV Programming Gods for our show selection.) We sat on the faux leather sofa in my parents’ basement hunched over a big bowl of Doritos, alternately munching and sobbing uncontrollably–especially when the laywer character (not realizing he is defending his own mother) remarks to the Susan Hayward character (who is going to face the gas chamber after being wrongfully accused of murder), ”If I had a mother, I’d want her to be just like you. “ Oh, boo hoo hoo hoo!! (Crunch, crunch).
Nowadays, although I have a sweetie with whom to share the Day of Hearts and Roses (and let’s not forget Chocolate), I still bemoan the lack of romance in my life on Valentine’s Day. The HH, you see, is many things (witty, kind, generous, incredibly artistically talented, a human trivia database, in love with our Girls), but “romantic” is not one of them. His idea of romance is reading aloud to me. . . from his “Polywell Fusion Reactor“ article.
Normally, for special occasions like Christmas or my birthday, I’ve learned to let the HH know in advance what I might like so that, at the least, he’ll show up after work with something gift-wrapped under his arm. This year for Valentine’s Day, however, I decided not to put in my usual request for chocolates (not ACD-friendly) or champagne (ditto) or flowers (I’d probably be allergic to the ones he chose) and just accept that he expresses his love in other ways. A few weeks ago, for instance, when I was feeling a little under the weather, the HH marched out into the snow and -22C (-8 F) weather with The Girls every evening to spare me having to go. And when I slowly rotate my head from side to side in an attempt to release some of the stress in my neck, he’ll often magically appear behind my desk chair and provide a mini neck-and-shoulder massage, no prompting necessary.
I hope I’ll be pleasantly surprised on Valentine’s Day, whether or not the HH’s contribution to the day is classically “romantic.” For my part, I’ve got a special celebration in mind, and it involves making Whoopee. (Pies, of course. Silly!). We’ll have chocolate, we’ll have cake, we’ll have sweetness and a light filling. And, of course, we’ll have each other. And that’s romantic enough for me.
When I first developed this recipe, I put out a note on twitter asking folks about the texture of “authentic” whoopie pies, because I had never tasted one before. I was told they were halfway between cake and cookie, slightly denser than a cake but softer than a cookie–and that’s just how these turn out. Even if they don’t taste “authentic,” I don’t mind. They’re delicious in their own right.
2/3 cup (160 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond, rice or coconut milk (the type in a carton, not a can)
one batch of ACD-Friendly Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting, from here, or your favorite thick frosting
Make the pies:
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment or spray wtih nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, coconut sugar, stevia, vinegar, vanilla, oil, tahini and flax until smooth. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, sift together the teff flour, millet flour, potato starch, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until combined. Using an ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, scoop out batter and place in mounds on cookie sheet. Wet your palms and flatten the mounds so that they are uniformly about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick all over.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then rotate cookie sheets and bake another 5-7 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
Assemble the pies:
Once cooled, cut each cookie in half horizontally (as if cutting a sandwich roll). Spread 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) of frosting (or more, to taste) on the cut side of the bottom of each cookie; replace the top of each cookie over the frosting. Enjoy! May be frozen, either as-is or after they’ve been filled with frosting. Defrost, well-wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator. Makes 6 large whoopee pies.
“Mum, we wouldn’t mind staying home watching a movie on Valentine’s Day if we could munch on those Doritos, too. . . or else maybe we could make our own canine form of whoopee by just playing outside. As in, ‘It’s snowing–Whoooopeeeee!’”
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
[Disclosure: I purchased both my own and the prize calendar myself. I was under no obligation to write this review and was not compensated for it.]
[Kim's Buckwheat Crackerbread with my own Sweet Potato Spread]
When I found out that my friend Kim was creating a recipe calendar for 2011, I squealed with joy. You may know Kim as my partner in crime sunworshiphoarding colorful earrings the SOS Kitchen Challenge, as we alternate choosing ingredients and writing the kickoff post each month (can you guess who wrote which ones?). Kim also pens the creative, informative and often whimsical blog, Affairs of Living, where she is a vocal advocate for Lyme patients (she follows a specific diet as well, which is very much akin to my ACD), and she creates incredible, innovative, delicious recipes.
As soon as the calendar was available, I hopped over to her etsy shop and bought a couple (I figured I could give one as a Christmas gift). Alas, the holiday rush combined with the usual disorganizationlassitudeincompetence delays of the Canadian postal system meant that I never received my order. Kim valiantly sent me another one last month, which I received just in time for the new year. Yay!
The full title is A Year to Eat Freely: 12-Month Calendar Featuring Recipes Free of Gluten, Rice, Dairy, Casein, Eggs, Soy, Corn, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Potato, Tomato, Citrus, Shellfish and Cane Sugar. That’s quite a mouthful! (and let me tell you, it’s an entirely delicious mouthful). It may be 2011 already, but you see, this collection is far more than just a calendar: each month is printed on its own sturdy, pocket-sized recipe card (recipes are on the back). Gorgeous photography coupled with innovative, delectable recipes (all gluten free, vegan, and free of refined sugars) make this a keeper no matter the time of year.
Kim is also donating 5% of her profits to Turn the Corner Foundation, “an organization dedicated to research, education, awareness, and innovative treatments for Lyme Disease and tick-borne infections.” How great is that? And since I never did give that second copy to my friend, I decided to make it the basis for a giveaway instead!
In addition to the 17 recipes, the package also includes cooking notes and a handy ingredients guide (for anyone following a gluten free, whole foods diet, most–if not all–of the ingredients will already be familiar). To read more about the calendar and see a full list of the recipes included, check here.
Ever since I got it, I’ve been cooking up A Year to Eat Freely recipes. Here are a few of the dishes I’ve made. Kim has graciously agreed to let me post the recipe for her Smoky Zucchini dip, too, so just skip on down to read it!
Mix and Match Raw Kale Salad
In my quest for more raw dishes this winter, I knew this salad would be tops on my list. Nothing could be easier than a collection of brightly colored raw veggies tossed in a light, tangy dressing that’s a snap to prepare. The combination of raw kale and other veggies made a perfect light dinner paired with some grilled tofu. And I’m so glad to have a delicious alternative to my standard raw kale salad!
Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
How could I resist a recipe for crisp chocolate chip cookies laced with oatmeal–and there’s even an accompanying recipe for homemade chocolate chips! (okay, I cheated a little and used unsweetened carob chips instead). Normally I can’t eat chocolate chip cookies on the ACD, but there’s nothing in these babies that I’m not allowed. Yay!
Smoky Zucchini Dip with Buckwheat Crackerbreads
I loved this bean-free alternative to hummus. Although I ate the dip both with crackers and in some raw collard wraps, I wanted to make the crackerbread as well just because Kim had paired them together and I thought the flavors would be a great match. And they were. The dip is light and flavorful with a smoky undertone from the grilled zucchini. Rather than bake the flatbread as a single cracker that was later broken into pieces, I pre-cut the dough into small triangles that could serve either as crackers or chips for dipping (see photo at the top of this post). We’ve enjoyed them with guacamole and chickpea-based hummus as well.
And now–I’m giving away a copy to one of you!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
I want you to enjoy these recipes and Kim’s great tips as well! I’m giving away my second copy of the calendar to one lucky DDD reader. To enter, simply leave a comment (make sure there is a link to your blog, or include your email address when you sign up for the comment–it won’t be visible on the blog). The contest will run until midnight my time, Thursday, February 3rd, and I’ll announce the winner the next day. Please be sure to check back here next week to see if you won! I won’t be contacting the winner. (If I don’t hear from the winner within a week, I’ll choose someone else. )
If you just can’t wait to get your hands on the calendar, Kim is also offering them at a discount to DDD readers. Just head over to her etsy shop and use the discount code, “GIVEAWAY” any time before February 28th. You’ll receive 5% off! (and the discount applies to everything on the site, not just the calendars).
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
This is an easy-to-make yet impressive looking dip that would be perfect at a party table. We enjoyed it in collard wraps , spread on crackers and with carrot sticks.
2 pounds zucchini (about 6 medium or 1 kg)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
3 Tbsp (45 ml) sesame tahini
1-2 small, very fresh garlic cloves
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground chipotle pepper
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) cayenne pepper
optional garnishes: olive oil, minced parsley or cilantro, a dash of spice
Turn oven to broiler setting. If you do not have a broiler, heat to highest possible heat. Lightly oil a large baking sheet, or line with aluminum foil [I used parchment paper]. Peel zucchini and slice in half lengthwise, then slice each piece in half lengthwise again. Arrange on baking sheet, then drizzlew with olive oil. Place in broiler and broil 5-7 minutes. Remove, flip, and return to broiler. Broil an additional 4-6 minutes, until browned and softened, checking often to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from broiler and let cool 5-10 minutes.
Place zucchini in a food processor with remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and cool completely. Garnish as desired and serve at room temperature with crackerbread and vegetables. Can also be used in collard leaf or tortilla wraps, or as a dip for Sweet Potato Falafel (or any falafel). Refrigerate leftovers 3-4 days in a well-sealed container. NOTE: if you are intolerant to nightshades, omit chipotle and cayenne and use 1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground coriander instead. Garnish with salt-cured or oil-cured black olives and parsley for a Middle Eastern twist.
With all of my 175 students’ assignments, exams and final marks finally submitted–I am now officially on holidays until 2011–whoo hoo! That makes me one very celebratory gal. Par-tay, I say!
And how about having everything all ready to start cooking my big holiday meal?
Um, no. (Insert sheepish expression here).
“Mum, did you say, ‘sheep?’ I’m half border collie, you know. And just being off-leash at the trail is enough of a party for me!”
In an ideal world, I would not only know exactly which dishes I’m cooking, but would have prepared an entire rehearsal Christmas dinner already, expressly for the purpose of photographing and writing about it for this blog (excuse me while I guffaw).
For the past two years, the HH and I have shared an Indian feast at Christmastime with the CFO, who’s made the trek from Montreal. The CFO isn’t able to join us this year, and I have a feeling that the multi-course Indian buffet will also make itself scarce, at least for this year.
I do have a couple of great ideas for potential dishes I’ve been wanting to try (and about which I’ll post, post-holidays.) But what with the HH’s accident; frenzied shopping for a new car; a fire at the campus where I teach resulting in only TWO days to mark all my students’ exams and submit them; a last-minute invitation to appear on a local daytime TV show (which happened this very morning)–I haven’t yet decided exactly what we’ll be eating at the festive table. Throw in a couple of doctor’s appointments, a visit to the vet, a haircut and typical holiday-time social activities, and there has been precious little time to cook.
If you’re like me and still thinking about what to prepare, I thought I’d share this list of some of my favorite holiday-worthy recipes (many of these are not yet listed in the Recipe Index–updating it is one of my new year’s projects!).
All are ACD-friendly recipes (ie, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, egg free, low glycemic) unless otherwise specified.
And to everyone who’s celebrating this time of year: have a wonderful holiday season!
*no, of course it’s not dairy butter, silly! The “butter” comes from “butterscotch,” which is what these babies taste like to me. I could have called them “berryscotch,” but that sounded too much like an alcoholic beverage.
Two posts in one day–am I mad?? No, just behind on my posting (as usual)–and I really, really wanted to tell you about A Gluten Free Holiday VI earlier today. So think of this as “Part II” of that post.
The holiday season is definitely upon us. Twitter is all a-twitter with messages about holiday shopping, tree decorating, and cookie baking. Blogs highlight amazing holiday meals and gift lists. The snow is making its inexorable journey to earth (wah, boo hoo), the temperatures are plummeting (sob, boo hoo HOO), and the general aura of holiday madness has permeated kitchens, living rooms, department stores and online retailers alike.
And what do I want more than anything at this time of year?
Take time to reflect and plan for the upcoming new year? (if I can find the time).
“Yes,” to all of the above. . . but that’s only a part of the answer. More than anything at this time of year, this gal’s mind turns to. . . . food!
When I think, “holiday,” my mind is flooded with childhood memories of the holiday season in our home. Mom clad in her pink polka-dot apron, cheerfully standing by the stove stirring mysterious vats of bubbling sauces or soups. And later in the day, still stirring. And then later, some mixing and some rolling. . . some cookie-cutting and some baking–not so cheerful now–and more stirring. . . . on her feet all day, wiping the sweat from her brow as she endures the rising steam and her ankles begin to swell to the size of wine barrels. . . .not having time to actually join us at the table as she weaves in and out of the kitchen, proffering platters of holiday fare to the rest of us at the table.
Oh, and the distinctive aroma of chicken grease and charred edges of kugel wafting across the room, Mom racing to get it out of the oven before it is completely ruined. A chaotic race to set the table, waiting to the last minute so there’s no time to iron the linen tablecloth or check the glasses for waterstains before the rest of the family arrives. My sisters and I arguing over who gets the last pickle, or who geos the biggest piece of chicken, or who gets the end piece of the casserole; and really arguing over who gets the most icing on their slice of cake. Eating too much, drinking too much eggnog, gorging on the six plates of cookies, cake, and chocolate, pigging out on all the foods that we’re never allowed to eat any other time of year–then plopping onto my parents’ bed to watch TV (theirs was the only room with a television), stomachs gurgling and heaving as we suppress the urge to upchuck it all and relieve the agony that is the holiday meal. . . .
Ah, yes, the holidays. Nothing like those childhood memories!
Obviously, I’ve learned a thing or two about eating since then. Miraculously, and even with our dysfunctional holidays, I never lost my love of throwing a big holiday dinner–including those desserts at the end of it. Of course, these days my confections are vegan, gluten free, sugar free, and (mostly) organic and whole-foods based. But you know what? I think that I cherish them even more precisely for that reason.
These bars are a cross between a cake and a blondie–hence the name “cake bars.” They’re light and tender, and the flavor is reminiscent of butterscotch. I’ve now made them on three separate occasions: first, with cranberries, then raspberries, and this time, blueberries. All were terrific. ”This tastes like a regular cake,” the HH remarked–his highest form of compliment.
If you’re looking for a dessert that’s a bit less indulgent than all the other offerings over the holidays yet still satisfying to your sweet tooth, this is the recipe for you. The bars make a great, light finish to an otherwise over-the-top holiday meal. Oh, and they just happen to be vegan, gluten free and low glycemic.
These are my contribution to A Gluten Free Holiday VI: Desserts, hosted this week by Amy–the brains behind the whole event! Amy made a decadent Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake. To see her recipe and to enter to win one of SIX autographed cookbooks, check out Amy’s post.
If you’d like to check out all of the “A Gluten Free Holiday” posts, here’s the lineup:
Use whichever berries you have on hand, or throw in some chocolate chips if you’re okay with those. I like cranberries for a totally festive option, but any combination of blueberry, cranberry, raspberry or strawberry would work. The ingredient list may look long, but this comes together very easily–it’s all blended in the food processor. Have no fear!–you won’t be sorry!
1 pear, cored (no need to peel)
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut or palm sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) natural smooth hazelnut butter (this contributes to the butterscotch flavor, but you could use cashew, almond, or sunflower instead)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) sesame tahini
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla rice, soy or almond milk
2 tsp (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1 ml) rum or butterscotch extract, optional
15-20 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1/3 cup (80 ml) light buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) lucuma powder (or use more buckwheat flour, or carob)
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or a combination
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8-1/2 inch (22 cm) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Purée the pear in the food processor until smooth; you should have about 1/2 cup (120 ml) purée. Add the coconut sugar, hazelnut butter, tahini, oil, flaxseeds, milk, lemon juice, vanilla, rum extract and stevia and blend until smooth. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, lucuma powder (if using), xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the liquid mixture from the processor and stir to blend well (it will be very thick–too thick to pour). Gently mix in the berries as best as you can.
Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan (it may take a bit of work) and bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until puffed on top, golden brown and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes 20-25 bars. May be frozen.
[This year, I decided to offer a "Festive Freebies" series in which I give away some of my favorite food products. . . hand-picked by me! These are things I already love and actually eat (or use) regularly, and which I'd love to share with you. Here's my fourth Festive Freebie--click here to enter!]
All the way from Australia–our winner is SUSAN from Kittens Gone Lentil! Here’s Susan’s comment:
The book I am most keen to get my hands on at the moment (though there are several) is Party Vegan by Robin Robertson. I love her books and recipes, and I love menu plans and putting together themed dinners, so this book just sounds like heaven!
CONGRATULATIONS, Susan! I can’t guarantee you’ll get it by the holidays (Australia is pretty far away from here. . . ) but I’ll be ordering your book as soon as I hear from you with your full name and address and you can Party Vegan through the new year! Please email me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom before Friday to receive your book!
These treats would make a great holiday gift for anyone who’s new to the kitchen, whose busy schedule prohibits too much baking, or who is interested in healthier, yet still deliciously homemade-tasting, cookies. And they are one of my all-time favorites.
Click here to read my review and enter the giveaway. [Note: I am required by the rules of BlogHer to place my giveaway on a separate page. Sorry for the extra clicks, everyone!]
III. A Quick Smoothie Recipe
I’ll be back later with last month’s SOS Roundup and those winners, too, but in the meantime, I’ve got another breakfast recipe for y’all. Breakfast (as you might recall) is my favorite meal of the day, and I never tire of new breakfast options. Here’s a really quick and refreshing smoothie recipe I enjoyed earlier this morning.
I was feeling like oatmeal when I first got up today [groaner alert]–funny, I don’t look like oatmeal. . . well, actually, maybe that’s not entirely true these days–but knew I just didn’t have the time to cook it up. So I concocted a festive smoothie that includes a touch of oats along with a protein kick and some seasonal cranberries. Yes–raw cranberries. The result was creamy, filling, and tart yet not lip-puckering. It offered just enough sweetness for my taste with only a few drops of stevia, but sweeten as you like. The recipe will be included in my upcoming ebook on ACD-friendly breakfasts.
This is a great smoothie for those in Stage 2 of the anti-candida diet. It provides a good amount of protein to offset the carbs in the smoothie, and since cranberries don’t “count” as a fruit, the smoothie includes the natural sweetness of pear as well.
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh or frozen unsweetened cranberries
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened rice, almond or soy milk
small handful raw walnut halves (about 6)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) brown rice protein powder (not flavored or with added ingredients–I use NutriBiotic, which is rice protein and nothing else)