[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 fifth Festive Freebie--with a charitable twist. Click here to enter!]
[And this is part of the package, too! Check details here.]
I. A new Festive Freebie! This week’s Festive Freebie is one I’ve written about before. I love these high-protein, low-fat, vegan and gluten free bars. And with a couple of new products in the mix (see photo, above). . . I think you’ll love this week’s gift package! Click here to enter the giveaway. (I apologize for the extra clicks. I’m adhering to BlogHer’s giveaway rules, which don’t permit giveaways or contests on the main page).
II. ‘Tis the season. . . for generosity. Like many of you, I have favorite charitable causes to which I donate regularly. But this time of year really gets me thinking about helping others less fortunate and how I can give something more. Back when I had my bakery, Bake it Healthy, I used to donate regularly to a charity called Second Harvest, which collects excess perishable food from restaurants, grocery stores or other fresh food sources and then redistributes it to the needy. Often, high-end restaurants will throw away food that was made that same day simply because it didn’t sell–and that food can be used to supply meals to hungry people. Second Harvest states, ” OUR MISSION is to help feed hungry people by picking up and preparing excess fresh food and delivering it daily to social service agencies in Toronto. OUR VISION is that no one need ever go hungryin the communities we serve.”
Now that I no longer operate the bakery, I’d still like to contribute. . . this time, by donating funds directly to the organization. And you can help make it happen simply by leaving a comment on the giveaway post! I’m stealing this idea from Chocolate Covered Katie (who borrowed it from a couple of other bloggers. Basically, I will donate 25 cents for each comment on the giveaway post. That’s right–simply by entering the contest, you will be donating to Second Harvest! Read the full details (and enter) here. And spread the word!
Will you disqualify me if I have two favorite cookies? I’ll take my chances … I’m partial to classic chocolate chip cookies AND gingersnaps.
Evidently, Random.org was fine with the dual answer! Congratulations, Andrea. Please email me by the end of this weekend (Sunday, December 12) with your full name and mailing address so that I can get those cookies out to you asap! If I don’t hear from you by then, I’ll choose another winner until the prize is awarded.
[PLEASE NOTE: If you participated this month and didn't see a comment from me, it's not that I didn't try. For some bizarre reason, WordPress is now tossing all of my comments into spam. If I usually comment on your blog and you haven't seen any from me lately, please check the spam comments and tell that *&%4#! Akismet that I am not a spammer!! Grrr. Thanks.]
It’s been quite the month, what with Vegan MoFo AND an SOS Challenge going on–but you guys rose to that challenge most admirably! I’m happy to say that last month was our best-attended SOS Challenge so far, with 39 spectacular entries!
Of course, I already love any recipe that includes sweet potatoes. But I was particularly impressed with some of the savory entries, including:
. . . plus too many more great recipes to mention! You’ll just have to check out all 37 entries on your own–see the thumbnails, below!
And let’s not forget this month’s winners! Once again this month, Kim and I were able to offer prizes for the SOS Challenge. We’ve chosen two names at random, each to win a prize from one of us. And the winners are:
BROOKE from B and the Boy: You’ve won a hand-crocheted jar cozy courtesy of Kim. Please contact Kim at eatingfreelyATgmailDOTcom with your full name and mailing address! (since this is a custom-made cozy, you can discuss which patterns and colors your want with Kim)
Thanks again to everyone who participated in the challenge last month. Kim and I are taking a break in December to focus on holiday cooking, gifts, and time with friends and family. We’ll see you for our next SOS Kitchen Challenge in 2011!
[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)
Sugar cookies! Then our whole family decorates them. So much fun.
Congratulations, Kristi! In order to claim your prize, you must email me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom (I’ll need your full name and mailing address).
NOTE: If I don’t hear from you by the end of this week (Friday), I will select a new winner. . . sorry, but I am unable to track down absentee winners. So please get in touch!
I’ll be back tomorrow with the Festive Freebie for this week, and later today with a recipe for my latest breakfast obsession (“And we are kind of partial to it, too, Mum!”)–it’s healthy for the whole family!
And, TWO copies of Artisanal Gluten Free Cookingby Kelli and Peter Bronski (also not vegan). Peter was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007, and Kelli is a professional chef, which makes for some gorgeous gluten-free fare!
For my own contribution this week, I decided to re-create a holiday staple that’s often used for gift-giving–Almond (or any nut) Bark!
According to the media, we should all be making homemade gifts this year, what with the economy as bad as it is. True, many of us may find ourselves frugally filling jars with mom’s granola recipe; mixing up homemade hot chocolate and bagging it with ribbons; placing shortbread and gingersnaps toe to toe in cellophane-lined boxes; steeping vanilla beans in vodka in tall, pretty bottles; or wrapping our own version of almond bark in glittery gift bags. But I’ve always loved making gifts of food for friends and family (and using a lot of “F”s in one sentence, too, apparently).
A gift of food is more than an inexpensive way to fulfill the need for a present. It represents time spent thinking about what the person might like, as well as time spent carefully preparing, baking (or soaking, or drying, or stirring, or whatever), and then carefully packaging the gift. It’s the personal dimension that makes it so special–and so cherished.
Well, having been on the ACD for almost 2 years now (I know, time flies when you’re fighting fungus), I thought about those of us who can’t enjoy the tradtional almond bark. I knew that an all-chocolate version (unsweetened chocolate with added stevia) could be bitter tasting, so I almost abandoned the idea. Then, about a month ago, I stopped in to the local health food store on my way home from work. I’d forgotten to bring a lunch with me (bad, bad) and was ravenous. I posed my usual enquiry: “Do you have any snack-like foods that are vegan, unprocessed, gluten free, without sweeteners of any kind except stevia, with no yeasts. . . etc.?”
“On a candida protocol?” the clerk asked. Smart cookie, that one (though, inevitably, one likely containing gluten, sweetener, or yeast).
“Why yes! Yes I am!” I responded. As expected, she led me to the bags of Mary’s Sticks and Twigs. Snack-like, yes, but not sweet.
“Oh, wait!” she went on, heading toward the bulk section. “We just got these carob-covered almonds. They’re vegan, with no added sugars. Just carob coating. I actually tried them and they’re not bad at all. . . “
Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. “You’re sure they’re vegan?” I insisted. “Yep,” she replied. “Just carob and almonds.”
Perhaps it was my near-blinding hunger,* or perhaps just that they looked so much like chocolate-covered almonds. Either way, I managed to consume the entire portion on the way home. While perhaps not the most ACD-friendly snack (I’m sure the oils used weren’t top quality), at least there were no sweeteners to spike my blood sugar, I reasoned.
Sadly, the next time I visited the same store, they had posted the ingredient list for the almonds–and the second from the top was “whey powder.” A DAIRY PRODUCT!!! Never mind that dairy is a hidden source of natural sugars not recommended for the ACD; but whey is most definitely NOT vegan. I really hate it when I find out, after the fact, that I’ve eaten something I don’t want to eat. Grrrr.
[Freshly made nut bark still in the pan, just set.]
That made me more determined to create my own version. I decided to combine the concept of barely-sweet carob coating with various nuts to create a carob-based stevia-sweetened nut bark! After playing with proportions of carob vs. chocolate, I came up with a very appealing variation that uses very little stevia, retains a smooth, chocolatey consistency, and offers up a tiny hint of peppermint in reverence to the season. It would make a perfect gift for anyone who’s on an anti-candida regimen, Type II diabetics, or anyone concerned with blood sugar levels (which would be everyone around the holidays, I’m guessing).
Of course, if your dietary habits allow, you can make this the old-fashioned way, with semisweet chocolate instead of the carob; omit the stevia in that case.
* Who am I kidding? I’ve never experienced “near-blinding hunger” in my life. . . I always make sure to eat long before that!
[. . . and revealing the nutty goodness inside.]
Dark “Chocolate” Nut Bark for Gift Giving (ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
A perfect gift for those you love. . . this nut bark won’t spike blood sugar levels and contains minimal caffeine because of the carob. Plus it’s filled with heart-healthy oils courtesy of the nuts.
3/4 cup (60 g) unsweetened carob chips
1.5 ounces (45 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate (I used Cocoa Camino), chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
pinch fine sea salt
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp (45 ml) soymilk powder
1 cup (240 ml) unsalted toasted nuts–your choice (I used cashews and almonds)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) lightly toasted seeds (I used sunflower, but pumpkin would be stellar)
Line an 8 x 8 inch (20 cm) square pan with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the carob chips, chocolate and coconut oil over lowest possible heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, stevia and vanilla. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mini food processor or blender.
Add the soymilk powder and process until perfectly smooth. Stir in the nuts and seeds to coat.
Working quickly (the carob chips will cause it to set fairly fast), pour the mixture into the prepared pan and tilt the pan this way and that until the mixture is evenly distributed (if you try to spread it out with a spatula, you will dull the naturally glossy sheen on top). Set aside at room temperature and allow to set; mine took about an hour in a cool kitchen. Or place in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Once set, remove from pan, peel off the plastic, and break into shards of “bark.” Wrap in decorative cellophane, bags, or boxes as gifts.
Variations: the recipe is infinitely adaptable–you can add dried fruits if permitted, cacao nibs, coffee beans, candied ginger, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Vegan MoFo: Can you believe that the first week of Vegan MoFo is almost over? And so much has happened this week: over 700 bloggers have joined in on the fun! I’ve been scrambling to keep up with reading all the posts that magically appear in my Google Reader (I think it may take until the end of July to read them all). What on earth made me think I could keep pace with all the young buckaroos on this one and post at least four times a week?? Oh, wait, I’ve already done something similar, nary three years ago. . . well, I was much younger then (a pox on this half-century craziness!). The upside is that I’m learning new things and seeing hoardes of recipes I want to try.
In order to keep up with the frenetic pace of MoFo (in addition to the frenetic pace of my life in general–but that’s another story), I’ve decided that I’ll be posting a few non-food blog entries over this month. To wit, this very post.
As I mentioned in the post title, I’ve got three major bits of information to share: a recent award, a blog birthday, and not one–not two–but threegiveaways within a week on this blog!
I. An Award: This past Friday, the Cuisine Canada Culinary Book Awards were held at Exhibition Place in Toronto. These are national awards (one of only two country-wide book awards), so you can imagine how thrilled I was that Sweet Freedom, my cookbook, was shortlisted! (I won’t keep you in suspense: my book didn’t win, but it did receive Honorable Mention. Considering the heavyweights from FoodTV and various national magazines it was up against, I was happy to accept that for my little self-published tome!).
Mingling with culinary luminaries and sniffing at the spectacular buffet tables (sadly, the only food I could eat at the entire affair was a few spoonfuls of quinoa, originally intended to provide cushioning for beef curry) was thrill enough in itself: Laura Calder (one of the Gold prize winners) was there, along with Elizabeth Baird and Bonnie Stern, true dignitaries in the world of Canadian Cuisine.
I even remembered to bring along my camera, for once–and then promptly discovered that the battery was dead! Lest you think the entire event was a mere figment of my overactive imagination, voilà the proof:
My name tag. . . and
[The HH holding the massive book poster that graced the wall (see his wee hands gripping the top and left side? That's how massive this thing was!]
II. A Birthday!
DDD turned THREE last week! Can it really be more than 1095 days and almost 500 posts since I first began tapping out random thoughts, ideas, musings, recipes and corny jokes in this space? (“And don’t forget about us, Mum!”). Oh, and transcribing comments from The Girls, too, of course. Rather than overwhelm you with a 5000-word post today (and because I do have to save some material for all those MoFo posts coming up), I’ll share my thoughts on the b-day later next week. In the meantime, let’s move to the third part of this blog post’s title: prizes!
Finally, I’m planning a third fabulous giveaway on Tuesday to kick off my own “Festive Freebies” series that will continue through the New Year. I’ve shared Festive Freebies before and really enjoy the idea of giving away gifts for the holidays to some of DDD’s readers. You all hang in there with me throughout the year, reading and commenting (and how I love hearing from you! Keep it up!) and standing by when I disappear for days at a time; and this will be my way of saying “thanks” and “Have a great holiday!”.
[A glimpse of my new breakfast obsession. . . recipe--and giveaway--coming soon!]
This year for Festive Freebies, I’ve handpicked foods and products that I personally already love and use, to share with you–and I can’t wait to have you try them. This first one has quickly become one of my all-time favorite foods! I know you’ll love it as much as I do–and it’s 100% vegan, sugar free AND gluten free!
And now, back to our regular weekend madness–the HH and I are having dinner with my friend Sterlin, who’s in town from England (though I doubt any Date Pasta will be had). Between catching up with old friends and catching up on my pile of work, the weekend will be over before I know it–and I’ll see you all here again on Monday for more MoFo madness.
I’m delighted to be kicking off the gluten-free festivities here at DDD with some tips about how to stay healthy through the holidays. Be sure to check this space every Thursday for five more themed posts from other gluten free bloggers. And please link up any healthier holiday recipes you have, via the linky tool at the bottom of this post–and don’t forget to enter to win one of two fabulous cookbooks by much-loved gluten free authors!
Those of you who read my blog regularly likely know two things about me: 1) I have been struggling with weight issues on and off for many years; and 2) I don’t believe in diets that impose too many “rules.” I don’t count calories, points, or carb grams. At the same time, I do believe–resolutely–in eating real, whole, healthy foods, and that the weight will take care of itself (so far, in the past couple of years, it’s worked for me: my weight dropped 45 pounds and has stabilized within a 5 pound margin by eating this way).
Still, the holidays can be tricky. We all love to eat delicious food, and so much of it abounds this time of year! One thing I’ve learned after navigating this holiday land mine for the past two decades or so is to ensure that I never feel deprived. It’s easy to “overcompensate” when everyone around you is drinking champagne, scarfing chocolate truffles, gulping eggnog or gorging on shortbread–and all you have are some celery sticks with almond butter.
[Does this look like deprivation to you?]
My holiday food survival guide doesn’t include deprivation, “eating a small meal before going to a party” (that never worked for me: I ate the small meal beforehand, then still ate a full meal at the party); or living on liquids the day before a social event. However, it does allow you to indulge, enjoy, and still avoid weight gain. Here are my own–albeit slightly unconventional–tips for staying healthy over the holidays.
1) Keep to your regular routine as much as possible. This isn’t an “eating” rule per se, but it’s so crucial, I’m putting it first. Our bodies like routine. I once read that Madonna rises at the exact same time each morning and works out even if she’s been on stage and out partying until 3:00 AM that same day. Though you may be socializing more than usual at this time of year, if you can retain a semblance of your usual schedule, your body will recover faster. And sleepy people tend to eat more, which can also lead to weight gain. So try to keep to your regular sleep routine and keep exercising, even if it’s less than usual: take the stairs at work, park a bit farther and walk, march in place while you brush and floss your teeth (yes, I’ve been known to do this), do bicep curls in the car at red lights, whatever you can.
2)Go for quality rather than quantity, and consume whole food ingredients whenever possible. Sure, the seven-layer dips and cheese balls and canapes are incredibly appealing, and you shouldn’t deny yourself if that is what you really want. But if you look for the nutritional value of the foods as your primary criterion, you’ll find you naturally eschew anything processed, artificial, or sugar-laden. For me, the choice is easy because I can’t eat refined carbs (white sugar, white flour, etc.)–I will naturally gravitate toward the veggie tray, for instance. According to this rule, even roasted nuts would be preferable to crackers and dip, though yes, they are probably higher in fat than the former. Since they’re also more nutritious and more satisfying, I find I’m happy eating a bit less, so it evens out in the end. If you stick to “real” in whatever you eat, you’ll find that naturally eliminates a lot of the holiday excess.
3)Don’t feel you have to “save the best for last.” In the past, I’d approach a holiday buffet table with the mind set, “I’ve got to try every food I like.” Yet I’d start with salads and veggies because they were ”healthier.” Then I’d want to eat the main dishes I liked, too, and by the time I reached the desserts, I’d be stuffed. But who says you can’t start with dessert? You may find that after a little piece of (real) apple pie, you are happy with nothing more than a cup of tea or a serving of veggies. And since you’ve been maintaining your regular whole-foods diet at home, this little detour won’t impact your nutritional balance in any lasting way.
[Everyone will want to share if you show up to a party with these babies!]
4)If you really want to enjoy dessert with abandon, it’s best to bring your own. I’ve gotten in the habit of volunteering to bring dessert whenever I’m invited to someone’s home for dinner. That way, I know that I can enjoy the dessert with everyone else, and the other guests never know they’re eating something “healthy.” These raspberry-filled truffle cups are a perfect indulgent treat, and one that contains good-for-you ingredients. They’re sweet, rich, delicious–and you won’t feel as if you are missing a thing. In fact, you might wish to make a double batch to ensure that you actually get some before they’re all scooped up! (See recipe, below.)
5) Remember that the real purpose of the holidays is to connect with people who are important to you; so focus on the human interactions and not the interactions of food and your mouth. If you concentrate on socializing and enjoying your friends and family, you may find that sampling all the holiday comestibles becomes a bit less important in your list of priorities this time of year. But even if you veer from your preferred eating habits, don’t berate yourself; move on and return to your regular habits the following day.
Andrew Weil, the popular doctor-cum-alternative health guru has some relevant advice in his bestselling book, Eating Well for Optimum Health. As Weil points out, sometimes the social aspect of eating has a larger impact on our overall health than the specific nutritional value of the food. He concludes with an anecdote illustrating that when “food is blessed by being shared, by being eaten in fellowship amidst conversation and laughter. . . all food is ‘health’ food.” I couldn’t agree more.
Here’s to a healthy, happy (gluten free) holiday season!
The trick to the oozy raspberry center is a single, naturally sweet frozen berry, which then softens inside the truffle cup as it defrosts. The chocolate coating on its own may be less sweet than you’re used to (akin to an 85% cacao chocolate bar), but combined with the very sweet coconut filling, the total effect is sublime. If you are okay with a wee bit of sugar, you could always use semisweet chocolate instead (or chips), for a sweeter coating.
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp (60 g or 2 oz) natural almonds with skin, lightly toasted
1 cup (85 g or 3 ounces) shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tsp (10 ml) coconut butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
8-10 whole frozen raspberries (keep frozen until ready to use)
Prepare the chocolate: Line a mini muffin tin with 10 metallic paper cups. (You can use the paper cups without the muffin tin, but the tin offers extra support so the cups keep their shape.)
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot. melt the chocolate, carob powder and coconut oil over very low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
Using 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) per cup, pour chocolate onto the bottom of eight of the paper liners and spread it to cover. Pop the muffin tin in the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm up the chocolate.
In the meantime, make the filling: In a food processor, whir the almonds and coconut until you have what looks like a coarse meal. Add remaining ingredients except the raspberries and blend until the mixture comes together resembling a sticky dough.
Using about 1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) per truffle cup, scoop out some mixture and form into a rough ball. Make an indentation in the middle and push one frozen raspberry into it, then mold the mixture around the raspberry into a ball. Repeat until all the mixture is used. If you have more than 8 balls, coat the bottom of the extra paper liners with chocolate as needed (and freeze these as well before filling).
Place one coconut ball inside each paper liner, covering the bottom but taking care not to touch the sides (you may need to roll the “dough” into more of a cylinder shape so its sides don’t touch the liners). Using 1-2 tsp (5-10 ml) of chocolate per cup, pour the melted chocolate over the coconut balls, starting in the center and rotating out to the edges, allowing the chocolate to flow down the sides and fill the paper liners.
Place the tray back in the freezer for another 5-10 minutes until the chocolate coating is firm. If you have extra chocolate, you can use it to drizzle swirls, loops, or other decorative designs on top of the truffle cups.
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Makes 8-10 truffle cups.
And now that we’ve eaten, let’s have some prizes!
As promised, each installment of the Gluten Free Holiday event brings with it giveaways! If all this talk of healthy gluten free food and dessert is making you hungry, you can enter to win one of two amazing cookbooks–we’ve got four books to give away! To learn more and enter the giveaway, just click here! (Sorry for the extra click–I am abiding by the rules set out by BlogHer, which stipulate that I can’t post a giveaway on the main page of my blog.)
Of course, you’re still welcome to link up a healthier recipe at the bottom of this page–it will still count as an entry!
PLEASE NOTE: This is not an exclusively vegan event as there are six different hostesses participating and not all of us are vegan. It’s the holidays: let’s open our kitchens to everyone on this one! :D
The contest is now closed. Thanks, everyone, for entering!
I’m so excited to be able to share a yummy, healthy, gluten-free holiday with you all this year!
Anyone with food allergies or other dietary restrictions for health reasons (such as my lovely ACD, for instance) knows how important it is to serve holiday foods that are both safe and delicious. We want to help as many people as we can do just that this holiday season.
And just who is “we,” you ask?
Well, this year, I’ve been invited by the wonderfully gracious Amy (the friendly voice behind the popular blog Simply Sugar and Gluten Free) along with four of her other bloggy buddies to participate in this holiday event. The main impetus behind the event is to seek out the very best gluten free recipes for the holidays–ones that are both delicious and healthy!
And “we” includes all of you, too! Without all of you reading, commenting, and linking up for the event, it just wouldn’t be the same celebration! So we’re inviting all of you to participate, too.
How Will it Work?
On Thursdays in November and December, a different gluten-free blogger will host a link-up event where you can share your best gluten-free holiday dishes. The linky will be open until the following Wednesday at 10:00 pm CST.
Every week there will be give-aways, too. Amy, along with Shirley of Gluten Free Easily, has lined up some amazing giveaways–prizes that would make some great early Christmas presents (or perhaps a present for yourself)! I can’t wait to share all of these with you.
That’s me! I’m going to kick off the event by discussing how to navigate the holiday season on a healthier note. After 18 months on the ACD, I’ve learned a bit about approaching holiday (or any special-occasion) eating to avoid packing on pounds or veering too far from a set eating plan. For this event, you can contribute your own healthier dish, or perhaps tips for staying slim when there’s tempting food all around–anything to do with staying healthier through the holiday season.
Share your favorite gluten-free Thanksgiving dish from appetizers to desserts at Shirley’s place. We want to see your stuffing, turkey dishes, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, cranberry jelly…anything Thanksgiving goes. (And to Canadian readers–we’ve got a head start on the US readership for this theme–so please do share your own Thanksgiving dishes for this week, too!)
Bring your family’s favorite entrées and sides. Diane will be ready for them all. And while Hannukah starts on December 2nd this year, we hope you’ll still submit some of your favorite dishes as well.
December 9th – Holiday Breakfast & Brunch at Ginger Lemon Girl
A warm, cozy breakfast or brunch is a wonderful way to start off the holiday. This is a great time to help someone else whipping up your fabulous gluten-free cinnamon rolls or a crumb-topped coffee cake by sharing your favorite recipes.
December 16th – Holiday Desserts at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free
Just like it sounds – bring your favorite gluten-free Christmas desserts for all to share. Cookies, pies, truffles, cakes, and candies….we want to try them all.
So, get your recipe box out and start browsing…then get in the kitchen and start cooking for the best ever gluten-free holiday!
If you’d like to share the event on your own blog. . .
To share the event on your blog, simply right click on our event badge above, save it to your desktop, and upload it to your blog.
Feel free to share the event with your own readers, Facebook buddies, twitter followers and other friends!
Looking forward to “seeing” you there!
“Mum, we’re not too concerned about not packing on the pounds at the holidays. . . but we would definitely be interested in those gifts that taste good!”
“Zip it, Chaser–she said, ‘gifts of good taste,’ not ‘gifts that taste good.’ But don’t worry, we’ll be getting our own gifts this holiday season. . . just keep giving Mum that sad puppy stare and we’re all set.”
Whew! Well, it took me a little longer to get to this post than anticipated. But I’m happy to report that my stack of exams has all been marked, the final grades submitted, and all that remains of this semester are a few meetings next week. And then: par-tay!
Come to think of it, I already hosted my first party this season (except that makes it sound as if there will be more than one, doesn’t it?), a pot luck dinner a for some friends from nutrition school. Though only two of us are vegan, everyone brought along a vegan dish. Aren’t they an amazing, open-minded crowd? This year, in fact, almost everyone managed an ACD-friendly dish as well, so I was able to partake of almost everything. Here’s what we feasted upon:
These Hazelnut Melting Moments (one of my contributions, and one of the foods I couldn’t eat, ironically) are my remake of a confection I used to serve all the time at dinner parties. They speak of the holidays to me, so I figured I’d whip up a batch (well, if you heard cookies talking, could you say “no” to them? Lucky for me I don’t hear dead people).
Way back in my 30s, I lived in a basement apartment. Of all the places I’ve lived as an adult (with the exception of the wee postwar bungalow I owned when I first met the HH), that apartment was my favorite. Why, you ask? Well, you know what they say: ”location, location, location.”
You see, the place was situated on the venerable Heath Street in Toronto, just a hop, skip and condominium or two from the St. Clair subway and in the tony Forest Hill area of town. The building itself was a renovated Victorian mansion; our landlady had gone to some trouble to furnish the upper three flats with marble bathroom tiles, hardwood floors, stylish light fixtures and even reverse-osmosis water filtration systems in the kitchens.
My place, on the other hand, hadn’t been upgraded a whit; it was, simply, a basement apartment, much like any other (except in the basement of a lovely old mansion in a wealthy area of town, of course). Perhaps my landlady assumed people in that part of the city wouldn’t lower themselves–no pun intended–to live in subterranean digs; whatever the reason, I couldn’t believe how affordable the place was, and leapt at the chance to move in.
It may have been a basement, with peephole-sized windows that framed pedestrians’ footwear as they trod by above; it may have been a haven for a constant procession of bugs, spiders and even the errant mouse on occasion (I’m sure you must have heard me shriek when I first spied that little rodent taking a stroll through my living room); it may have housed the furnace for the entire building in my coat closet (the other tenants regularly knocked on my door at all hours of the day or night to ask me to turn up the heat); but I loved it. It was clean, it was roomy, and it was warm (courtesy of aforementioned furnace).
And it was the setting for many a dinner party.
These days, one event a year seems like plenty; but back then–what I now consider “The Year of Living Sociably”–I’d use any excuse to entertain. Your birthday? Let me throw you a party! Got a promotion? I’ll cook dinner for you and four friends! Just adopted a daughter from China? Let’s have the entire group who flew over from Canada to my place!
It was my first apartment on my own after I got divorced from the Starter Husband, and I took every opportunity to socialize. I even held my divorce ceremony and subsequent “I’m Free!” reception there. And I hosted a “I think I’m in love” bash when the HH and I finally got together.
Like a regular guest, these Hazelnut Melting Moments made an appearance at almost every gathering (though they never stuck around to the end of the soirée). Partway between a shortbread and a chocolate chip cookie, they are slightly sandy, buttery, with a hint of citrus. Topped with a melty pool of chocolate that oozes and dribbles on your chin if you eat them while still warm (not that I’d have any experience with such things), they’re an indulgent treat for the season. My newfangled version, either gluten-free or not, as you like, was every bit as delicious as the original (luckily, my guests ate them all, so I wasn’t tempted).
The cookies keep well, and would make a wonderful holiday gift. Something, say, to bring along to a party.
Hazelnut Melting Moments Times Two
Because these beauties are similar to shortbread and not cakelike, they are easily adaptable to gluten free cooking. I’ve made both versions (the GF at my pot luck, and in these photos), and they were a huge hit with everyone.
1/3 cup (60 g) Sucanat or any unrefined evaporated cane juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) water
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic, soft at room temperature (but not melted)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) nutritional yeast, optional (adds a richness to the flavor)
2 tsp (10 ml) lemon or orange zest
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) finely ground chia seeds
1 cup (240 ml) finely ground hazelnuts (filberts), either raw or lightly toasted before grinding*
1-1/4 cups (175 g) light spelt flour or 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (270 ml) all purpose GF flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill AP flour)*–or use your own favorite combination of gluten free flours
3 oz (85 g) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F (165C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the Sucanat, water and vanilla until the Sucanat begins to dissolve. Add the coconut oil, nutritional yeast, vanilla, lemon zest and chia seeds and mix well.
Remove 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of the ground hazelnuts and set aside in a small bowl. Add the remaining hazelnuts and flour to the bowl and mix well until the dry ingredients are incorporated and you have a stiff dough. Work it with your hands if necessary until the dough holds together (if it is really dry, add up to one more Tbsp or 15 ml of water). The dough should NOT be sticky or too soft.
Using a small scoop or teaspoon, scoop out portions of dough and work them in your hands to create balls. (The GF dough may be too dry to roll it in your palms; I squeezed it in my fist, moving it back and forth from one hand to the other and squeezing it together each time I passed it back and forth, until it held together.) Place the balls about 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) apart on the cookie sheet.
Using your thumb or index finger, press an indentation on the top of each cookie (this may cause the outer edges of the GF cookies to crack or separate; just push them back together with your fingers).
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden around the edges. While the cookies bake, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler of over extremely low heat, stirring constantly. Fill each indentation with about 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) melted chocolate, then sprinkle with a bit of the 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of reserved ground hazelnuts. Cool and devour. Makes 12-15 cookies. May be frozen.
* If you’re using metric measures, I apologize for using volume measurements instead of weight for the nuts and flours; my kitchen scale has broken, and I couldn’t wait to post the recipe! Will buy a new scale this weekend.
[These babies are coming up later. . . but for now:]
We have a winner to the “Healthy Baking Kit” giveaway! I’ve managed to copy the Random Number Generator (though I still haven’t mastered how to capture the exact image as it appears on the site), so without further ado, I present to you the winner of the amazing kit of healthy baking ingredients!
True Random Number Generator
Commenter Number 82–Laura! Here’s your comment:
Great giveaway! I’d like to try everything, but especially the teff, I had never heard of it and am so sick of wheat!
Well, now you can chuck that wheat and try a bunch of other flours, coconut oil, yacon syrup, stevia and more, Laura! Congratulations!
Please email me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom with your address so I can arrange to have your kit sent out to you asap!