Gigantic Chocolate Chip Cookie

     Last night I experimented with a huge chocolate chip cookie and it was a success! I used the recipe from: http://www.simplyvintagegirl.com/blog/index.php/2012/07/10/chocolate-chip-cookie-squares-gluten-free-grain-free-dairy-free/ and substituted chia eggs for chicken eggs to take this gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free recipe to the next level: vegan. I have made multiple recipes that call for coconut sugar, but have substituted honey or maple syrup for it as I try to abstain from sugar as much as possible and use natural sweeteners instead. Last night the only thing I wanted to alter in the recipe was the eggs so I gave coconut sugar a shot and later did some research. Coconut sugar, also known as palm sugar is low on the glycemic index and has some other surprisingly beneficial properties. Made from the flowers of the coconut tree, coconut sugar is rich in various vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. Keep in mind, I’m not saying coconut sugar is a health food by any means, but it is an excellent alternative to white refined sugar.

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Gigantic Chocolate Chip Cookie:

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 chia eggs
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup Enjoy Life (dairy-free) chocolate chips

Directions:

Combine 6 tbsps water and 2 tsps ground chia seeds in small bowl (or mug) and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients (almond flour, salt, baking soda, and coconut sugar) in a large bowl. In a medium sized bowl, combine wet ingredients (melted coconut oil, vanilla, honey, and chia eggs. Once the chia eggs are ready, add to the wet ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with wooden spoon or spatula until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Place dough on parchment paper on top of a baking sheet. Form dough with your hands into a rectangle, distributing evenly. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let the cookie cool for about 15 minutes and cut into squares.

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Buttermilk Pancakes

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a vegan and gluten-free buttermilk Belgian waffle recipe on Pinterest (http://www.theveganchickpea.com/2013/01/buttermilk-belgian-waffles.html) and have been dying to make it since. This morning was the perfect day to attempt the recipe as the whole family is home for a beautiful snow day. Since we don’t have potato starch I tried substituting brown rice flour for it. Rookie mistake! Brown rice flour can be a substitute for potato flour, NOT potato starch. I realized my mistake after the first batch of waffles separated and stuck to each end of the waffle maker. Instead of tossing the entire batter, I added arrowroot starch and made pancakes with the batter. The results were quite satisfying!

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Makes approximately 15 pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup millet flour

1/2 c brown rice flour

1/4 c arrowroot starch

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

2 cups unsweetened almond milk + 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar mixed and set aside for 5 minutes

4 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat pancake skillet to 350 F.  In a medium bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.  Add in almond milk/apple cider vinegar mixture, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Using a small ladle, scoop batter onto the heated skillet. Flip pancakes once small bubbles begin to form. Serve warm with maple syrup and fruit.  Enjoy!

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Strawberry Banana Spinach Smoothie

One of my favorite smoothies growing up was strawberry banana so I decided to revamp it into a green smoothie!

IngredientsImage

1 1/2 cups fresh spinach

Large handful of frozen strawberries (about 6)

1 frozen banana

1/2 tbsp almond butter

1/2 tbsp chia seeds

5 oz coconut milk

Directions

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until reaching a smooth consistency. Add more coconut milk if desired. Personally, like to make my smoothies as thick as possible and eat with a spoon instead of drinking.

Almond Butter & Banana Rice Cake

One of my favorite and easiest snacks to make is almond or peanut butter with banana on a plain rice cake. This snack is a great energy boost with the rice cake being a low calorie carbohydrate source and the nut butter providing protein. Additionally, bananas are a great source of potassium and dietary fiber. So next time you’re looking for a quick snack, grab the nut butter, a banana, and rice cake to make this delicious pick-me-up!

ImageWhat you need (for one serving):

1/2 banana

1 plain rice cake (I use lightly salted brown rice organic rice cakes made by Lundberg)

1 tbsp almond butter (or nut/seed butter of choice)

drizzle of honey (optional)

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Senior year of college I took an experimental foods class in which we modified a recipe to make it healthier or tend to a special dietary need. I decided to modify a cream of mushroom soup to be suitable for vegans and those with lactose intolerance. Over the course of 3 weeks, I experimented with the control and modified recipes to perfect them for the final tasting day. The results were wonderful!

Control Recipe (serves 5-6):

44.4 mL salted butter

342 g crimini mushrooms, chopped

1.5 shallots, chopped

360 mL low sodium vegetable broth

3.9 g pepper

6.5 g sea salt

4.0 g dried thyme

5 g onion powder

237 mL heavy cream

Sauté the butter, mushrooms and shallot in a deep pot over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Pour in the vegetable broth, salt, pepper, and thyme. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the cream. Use an immersion blender and pulse to incorporate the cream and continue until the mushrooms are smooth.

Modified Recipe (serves 5-6)

44.4 mL olive oil

342 g crimini mushrooms, chopped

1.5 shallots, chopped

360 mL low sodium vegetable broth

3.9 g pepper

4.0 g dried thyme

5 g onion powder

237 mL cashew cream

To make the modified soup, follow the same steps for the control soup with olive oil instead of butter and cashew cream instead of heavy cream. For the cashew cream, soak 210 g of raw cashews in 950 mL boiling water for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the cashews and save the soaking water. Place the cashews in a blender with 267 mL of the saved soaking water and blend until smooth and about the thickness of Greek yogurt.

If you want to learn more about the experiment, my abstract is below!

Over 30 million Americans are lactose intolerant, meaning they are unable to or have a decreased ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. The experimenter was inspired by her own struggle with lactose intolerance to modify a cream of mushroom soup to make it dairy-free. A basic cream of mushroom soup containing butter and heavy cream was used as the control and the modified version was made by substituting the butter with olive oil and heavy cream with cashew cream. The purpose of the experiment was to compare the creaminess, mouth feel, and overall acceptability of the soups. It was hypothesized that modifying the soup would yield a change in viscosity without affecting the overall acceptability. One objective and two subjective tests were used to test the hypotheses. A line-spread test was done to compare the viscosity of the soups, which showed that the modified was slightly more viscous than the control. The first subjective test asked tasters to compare the 2 soups and determine which had a better mouth feel and which had a better flavor. The second subjective test was a hedonic scale that ranged from not at all creamy to extremely creamy. On average, the modified soup was ranked extremely creamy and the control was ranked moderately creamy. More tasters preferred the flavor and mouth feel of the modified in comparison to the control.

Toffee Bars

Ingredients

About 50 gluten-free crackers (I used a pack of 365 Sesame Rice Crackers, but use crackers of your choice. Saltines work best for those that can have gluten)

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Prior to chilling the bars

1 cup earth balance (butter works best for those who can have dairy)

1 cup brown sugar

12 oz dairy-free chocolate chips

1 cup crushed raw pecans (or walnuts)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Lie crackers down flat (do not overlap) on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

3. Melt earth balance in a saucepan over low heat and add the brown sugar. Heat on medium low stirring often until it blends together in a caramel consistency.

4. Pour mixture over the crackers, spreading all over the tops of the crackers.

5. Bake in the 400 F oven for 5 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and sprinkle throughout with chocolate chips. After 2 minutes, gently spread chocolate chips with the back of a spoon.

7. Sprinkle with crushed nuts and cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

8. Break into pieces and enjoy!

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Delicious. My dog wants some!

Pizza Pizza

One of the things I miss most on my gluten-free diet is pizza. Fortunately, various restaurants are beginning to offer gluten-free pizza, but it is still a rare find. It doesn’t have to be rare at home though! Last night my mom and I experimented with 2 different crusts (and I will continue to do so). Both crusts are gluten-free, yeast-free, and vegan.

First, we made a polenta pizza crust using a recipe from:

http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/weekend-project-polenta-pizza-crust/

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What we did differently:

-Formed the dough into a rectangle instead of a circle

-Pre-baked the dough for 25 minutes without toppings

-After the dough was baked, we added homemade tomato sauce, goat mozzarella, goat feta, spinach, mushrooms, artichokes and yellow onions and baked for another 15 minutes.

Verdict:

The polenta crust tasted delicious, but was a bit too mushy. To achieve a firmer texture, I would cook the dough for a few minutes longer in addition to microwaving the cornmeal and water mixture a few extra minutes prior to baking.

The second crust we tried was a sweet potato crust from http://www.purefreshdaily.com/recipes/pasta/carne-asada-flat-bread-pizza.

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What we did differently:

-Substituted 2 chia eggs for the chicken eggs

-Used 1 ½ cups of spinach for the greens

-Topped with homemade pesto, goat chevre, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms, and yellow onions.

Verdict:

This crust was not extremely aesthetically appealing (green crust), but the texture was excellent as well as the taste (was a bit sweet from the sweet potatoes).