Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!

This month our CSA delivery (a box of vegetables that comes from a local farm delivered weekly to our house) has brought an abundance of pumpkin and squash. We’ve already carved one, enjoyed it and had it go bad already and we aren’t even close to Hallowe’en yet! Last week I decided to take one of our pumpkins and do some baking. I got more than I bargained for out of one pumpkin!

I started with a small-medium sized pumpkin, cut it in half and scooped out the seeds. I put the seeds aside to roast later that night. Then I rubbed the cleaned out pumpkin’s cut sides with a little oil, placed the cut sides down and put it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour (until it was soft when I pressed on the outer skin). I then let it cool and removed the flesh by scraping it off the skin (the same way you would if you roasted a squash). When it was cool I ran it through the food processor until it was smooth. From there it could be used as any pureed pumpkin from a can (except fresher, tastier and much, much cheaper!).

There’s a limit to how much I can get accomplished while my little guy naps, so I put all the puree in the fridge to use the next day for baking. I ended up making 2 recipes of pumpkin scones, a crustless pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice muffins. All gluten and dairy free and all delicious, all from one smallish pumpkin! At the moment I can’t local the pumpkin pie recipe I used but I will post the others and hope the pumpkin pie recipe turns up. The trick to a crustless pumpkin pie is to make your regular filling recipe and add 1/4 cup of gluten free flour and grease the pie plate and it will work as a delicious crustless pumpkin pie or pumpkin custard.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Scrape out the insides of a pumpkin.
Pick all the stringy parts off the seeds so you have just seeds left then rinse them.
Lay out in a single layer so they can dry (on parchment, tea towel). You can lay them on paper towel to dry but if you leave them too long you can end up picking off bits of dried paper towel.
When seeds are dry, toss with a little olive oil (or your favourite oil) and salt.
Bake at 350 in the oven until they start to brown at the edges, 20-30 minutes. Stir them occasionally and watch them closely so they don’t burn.
Enjoy a tasty snack with lots of protein, fibre, iron and magnesium!

Pumpkin Muffins (gluten free, dairy optional, corn free)
⅔ c. brown rice flour
½ c. freshly ground buckwheat flour
½ c. arrowroot starch (or tapioca starch, corn starch as a last resort)
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. baking powder or corn free baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
¾ c. honey OR 1 c. sucanat
2 eggs OR 2 Tbs. freshly ground flax + 6 Tbs. hot water mixed and set aside until it gels if avoiding eggs
½ c. melted butter or coconut oil
¼ c. cold water
1¼ c. pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
Instructions
Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients separately. Stir or beat well.
Line muffin tin and pour about ¾ full into 12 muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes (20-25 for 24 mini muffins).

Pumpkin Scones (gluten free, dairy optional, corn free)
I made two batches, in the first I used all rice flour and tapioca, forgot the sugar and used the glaze. In the second batch I switched some rice flour to quinoa flour, added date sugar (looks like brown sugar but made from ground up dates) and didn’t do a glaze. I liked the second batch best but both were good.

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1-2 teaspoons xanthan gum or guar gum (use guar gum if avoiding corn)
2 teaspoons baking powder ( if avoiding corn use corn free baking powder)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar or date sugar or sucanat. Can be left out entirely if desired.
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp clove
6 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons milk or milk alternative (almond, rice, soy)
1 large egg or 2 small eggs
egg white or milk to brush the tops of the scones with (optional)
1 tablespoon course sugar to sprinkle on the top (optional but consider it if not sweetening the scones)

Spice Glaze (completely optional, don’t use if avoiding corn):
1/2 cup confectioners’ (or icing) sugar (contains corn)
1/4 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp milk or milk alternative

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust the parchment paper with brown rice flour. Set aside.

Mix all of the dry ingredients (bowl or food processor).

Cut in the butter/coconut oil with a pastry blender, two knives, your hands or use the food processor to blend thoroughly with the dry ingredients.

Mix pumpkin puree, milk and egg in a separate bowl.

Mix wet and dry ingredients by hand or with a food processor just until dough comes together in a ball.

Turn the dough out onto the baking sheet. Dust your hands with brown rice flour, and quickly form the dough into a 10-inch circle, approximately 3/4″ thick.

With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Carefully move the wedges apart, leaving at least 1″ between them so that they will not touch when baking.

Brush the tops of the scones with milk or egg white (optional), and sprinkle with coarse sugar (optional).

Bake in preheated oven for 14-16 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. If desired drizzle with Spice Glaze and serve.

Corn free baking powder
1 tsp. of baking powder, add instead 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp. baking soda.
1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder, add instead 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar and 3/8 tsp. baking soda (1/4 plus 1/8 tsp.).
To make a large batch of baking powder, mix ¼ cup starch (arrowroot or tapioca) with ¼ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of cream of tartar. The starch is very important! Otherwise you get concrete when it sits between uses. Keep in a sealed jar or Tupperware. 1 tsp. mix equals 1 tsp. baking powder.

Snickerdoodle cookies (grain free, gluten free, egg free, dairy optional)

This weekend I was in the mood to bake and the kids were in the mood for cookies, what a great combination! The problem is that baking seems to be getting trickier and trickier in our house.  My husband doesn’t do well with butter and is highly sensitive to coconut oil, my two little kids can have coconut oil but they are very dairy sensitive, one can manage butter and the other can’t.  I don’t want to use margarines because they are a terrible health choice and my older stepgirls are teenagers and don’t want anything that tastes “too healthy”.   This presented quite a cookie problem.  Last time this problems happened I used one of my favourite simple cookie recipes that uses nut butter to be the fat and the flour in the recipe, it is here, so simple, yummy but higher in sugar than I would like (yes, I’ve tried to substitute honey and they were pretty good too but I just wasn’t in mood for peanut/almond/cashew butter cookies).

This weekend’s baking mission was to experiment with using oil instead of a solid fat in cookies.  I do it all the time in muffins and cake but cookies almost always use solid fats that are creamed with sugar to start.  In my research I found that butter is 85% fat and 15% water so the recommended way to substitute oil for butter is to use 85% of the amount of butter in a recipe and use oil instead.  Calculating 85% of 1/3 of a cup called for more math than I was in the mood to do so I just added a bit less than the 1/3 of a cup (somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 on the measuring cup).  I have since calculated and it should be approximately 70 mL (4 2/3 tbsp or 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tbsp).

The resulting cookies were fantastic, they were chewy and the sugar on the outside gave a bit of crunch.  I loved that mostly they were sweetened with honey with just a tiny bit of cane sugar mixed with cinnamon to roll them in to make a sparkly outside.  

I wish I had taken a picture but they were eaten so fast I just didn’t have a chance!

Snickerdoodles –  (Paleo, Vegan optional, egg free, gluten free, grain free, dairy optional)

2 cups/200 g/7 oz blanched, fine ground almond powder (not packed)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup melted palm shortening, butter, ghee or coconut oil OR 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tbsp of oil such as sunflower oil

1/4 cup mild honey (like clover) 

11/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Cinnamon coating:
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar, coconut sugar or maple sugar (optional)

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line and grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, combine dry ingredients; mix together well. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, honey and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the almond flour mixture and mix till combined. Let rest for a few minutes. It will thicken up some but may still be sticky. 

Combine the raw sugar/coconut sugar/maple sugar (optional*) and the ground cinnamon in a small bowl. 

With clean hands (so the dough doesn’t stick) use a rounded tablespoon, scoop out the dough; then gently form into a ball. Roll in or sprinkle all sides with the cinnamon mixture. Place the balls of cookie dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. 

Gently flatten each cookie using your hands, bottom of a cup/jar or parchment paper. Dip the bottom of the jar or cup in some of the sugar & spice mixture to help keep the cookie form sticking to the jar. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-9 minutes. Leave cookies on the cookie sheet while cooling. They may seem under-baked at first, but they will firm up to just the right texture as they cool. 

Recipe adapted from: http://urbanposer.blogspot.ca/2012/06/snickerdoodle-cookies.html

 

Paleo Banana Bread

chocolate-chip-banana-bread

I’ve been trying various grain free banana bread recipes to try to find the perfect one and I think I’ve finally found it. This is a bit of a mix of various recipes I’ve found online, it is moist, delicious and filling. If you add chocolate it is a little treat but it is just as delicious with nuts instead of chocolate and it can be made leaving out the honey and the bananas sweeten it nicely, it is just a little more decandent with the honey.

Banana Bread with coconut flour
(gluten-free, grain free, dairy free, no refined sugar)
This banana bread is moist and delicious, it can be made with or without honey and with or without addition of nuts/chocolate chips/cocoa nibs.
Ingredients:
2 eggs
3 bananas (mashed)
2 tbsp honey (or maple syrup or leave out entirely)
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1-2 handfuls of raw cocoa nibs, 70-85% dark chocolate bar chopped into pieces, chocolate chips or chopped nuts
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup coconut flour
a heavy dash of cinnamon (1 tsp-1Tbsp), if desired also a dash of nutmeg
Directions:
Blend eggs, mashed bananas, honey/maple syrup and coconut oil together.
Mix the dry ingredients and then combine with wet ingredients.
Pour into greased bread pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Delicious, creamy, dairy free salad

In our house we eat a fair bit of salad but had fallen into a salad rut. I make a vinegrette that is yummy out of maple syrup, mustard and various types of vinegar and it has been our standard for a few years. Everyone likes it but we’ve eaten it more times than I can count. This week our salad world has been rocked in a really good way.

In our house we can’t do dairy based dressings and most mayonnaise based dressings are out of the picture so I can’t remember the last time before this week that a creamy salad dressing had been on our table but things have really changed. Our 3 1/2 year old who never eats salad has become a voracious salad eater, she now starts with grownup sized portions of salad and asks for more. She’s even choosing salad over everything else on her plate. With this salad dressing providing a good dose of healthy, satisfying fats I’m happy about her new favourite.

The creamy texture comes from pureed avocado and the lemon and garlic bring a ceasar salad to mind (especially when using romaine lettuce). If guacomole and ceasar dressing had a baby, this would be what it would taste like. If you add the garlic pesto comes to mind. YUMMY!

I’m excited about this dressing for patients who can’t do vinegar, either due to reactions or because they are a yeast free diet and can’t eat anything fermented. Plain salad or salad with lemon juice with salt and pepper on a salad gets old in a hurry. This gives a great new option!

This dressing is also great in place of mayonnaise in a sandwich (it was delicious with the leftover turkey sandwiches we had last week) and works as a dip for veggies, crackers or nachos.

Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing (dairy free, vinegar free)
1 avocado
juice of 1 lemon or lime
salt and pepper
1 clove or 1 tsp garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 cup of fresh basil (optional)

Puree in a food processor or blender. If it is too thick with the fresh basil add a little more olive oil. Will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Gluten free Easter Bread (sweet bread)

One of the hardest times for people with food sensitivities can be the holidays when they are surrounded by flavours and smells of foods that represent the holiday traditions of their families.  These foods can instantly transport us to holidays of previous years and missing out on these foods can sometimes feel like missing the holiday itself.  This year I attempted (quite successfully I think) to make gluten free Easter Bread, as a child this was a constant of every Easter and it was the only time of year we had it.  I have fond memories of helping my grandma make it when I would visit her house in the spring, until this year I hadn’t had Easter Bread in about 15 years.  For my Easter Bread experiment I used my mother in law’s Portuguese Easter Bread recipe which I think is slightly different from the Hungarian Easter Bread that I grew up with, while the finished product doesn’t conjure up memories from childhood exactly it is close enough that a few tweaks in future years might get it there (next year I will try adding soaked raisins like my grandma does).  In the meantime, my family has devoured 2 loaves of this bread in just over 24 hours, I consider that the bread was a pretty big success!

Gluten Free Easter Bread

2 1/2 pounds of gluten free flour (I used 8 oz teff flour, 16 oz of brown rice flour, 8 oz tapioca starch and 8 oz white rice flour)
3 tbsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt

650 mL milk (I used goat milk but intend to experiment with almond in the future)
1 cup butter

6 eggs
2 cups sugar (I will try to cut this back and perhaps alternate sweeteners in future)
1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp yeast (I might use less next year)
1/4 cup warm water

Mix yeast, 1 tbsp sugar and warm water together and let sit.  Mix flours, xanthan gum and salt in a separate bowl.  Melt butter on low heat and add milk, heat until slightly warm.  Mix eggs, sugar and vanilla together.  Add milk mixture and egg mixture together.  Slowly add flour mixture to this and finish by adding the yeast mixture.

Transfer dough to a greased bowl and put somewhere warm to rise for 2-4 hours covered with a tea towel.  Cut the dough into 4 pieces, each piece will be a loaf of bread.  Then transfer into loaf pans or make free form round loaves on a cookie sheet (I made both and preferred the round loaves).  Let rise another 4 hours.  Bake at 325 F for 30-40 minutes.

Guilt free Chocolate Chip Cookies

This weekend I made a great new find, Grain free Lactation Cookies!  They are delicious and almost guilt free.  They contain no grain, no dairy, low amounts of refined sugar, tons of fibre and omega 3s.  To make things better they have been fantastic for my milk supply and I LOVE them.  The fennel, fenugreek and anise are all galactagogues which increase milk supply. My little guy has been quite happy to nurse extra today to take advantage of the increase in milk.  All 3 other kids have been trying to eat all the cookies because they are tasty, it is only fear of lactating that is keeping them away!  I’m absolutely sure that I will make batches in the future without the herbs and that it is going to be our new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Grain Free Lactation Cookies

1/2 C coconut oil, liquified

1/4 C maple syrup

4 eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp anise seed ground

2 C almond flour

1/2 C flax meal

1 tsp baking soda

1 C walnuts, chopped

1/2 C dates, chopped

1 C dark chocolate chips or chunks

1-2 tsp Fenugreek ground or powder from capsules

2 tbsp ground fennel seeds

Instructions

1.Whisk together syrup and oil

2.Add eggs and whisk in one at a time

3.Add anise, fenugreek and fennel and vanilla

4.In separate bowl, combine almond flour, flax, and baking soda

5.Slowly add dry ingredients to wet as you beat or mix to combine

6.Fold in nuts, chocolate and dates

7.Spoon one tablespoon of batter onto greased or lined cookie sheet

8.Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes until top just starts to brown

Makes a whopping 36 cookies – but they freeze well if you don’t need that many.

original recipe found on PaleoParents.com

Happy Birthday to me (with Vanilla Berry Nut Cake)

P1080135

It has been a really, really long time since my last blog post.  Since my last entry, I was pregnant, have had a baby and have almost finished my maternity leave.  My son Truman is almost 2 ½ months old but self-employment means I start back to work in a touch over a month.   It has gone fast, but I am grateful to still have a month, with my daughter Evora, I had started back to work by this point.

New additions have brought new food parameters to work around.  Our little guy is sensitive to dairy and if I want to keep his spit up and fussiness to a minimum that means no dairy for me while nursing.  Even though we have dairy issues already in the house with my daughter, I am generally fine with dairy.  I hadn’t actually realized until cutting it out again that I had been eating a fair bit of cheese in the past couple of years and miss it.  Thank goodness for occasional sheep cheese to satisfy cheese cravings.  The hardest change at this point is chocolate!  I am always a dark chocolate eater so being off milk chocolate is easy but trying to avoid cocoa and dark chocolate is more of a challenge.  I keep going to grab a square of dark chocolate as a treat but then remember all the fussing and crying that it seems to lead to and then I think better of it.

I started writing this post on my birthday while I was feeling glum in search of a non-chocolate, non-dairy, gluten free birthday cake.   For the first time we braved a nice restaurant to celebrate with the two little kids and wanted to keep it short and do dessert at home.  This was partially to avoid kid meltdowns and partially out of necessity since finding a restaurant non-dairy, gluten free dessert is a challenge.

I ended up feeling very successful when I not only managed to bake a lovely cake with both kids awake but it was great too!  The winner was a grain free berry cake – so delicious and quite healthy!  This cake is delicious warm with some vanilla non-dairy coconut ice cream.  It is also delicious the next day with a cup of herbal tea.

Recipe: Vanilla Berry Nut Cake

(original recipe found on http://cleaneatsinthezoo.com)

Cake
1.5-2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, butter or non-dairy margarine, melted
4 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla
3/4 cup honey

Berry Swirl
2 cups raspberries or mixed berries
1/4 cup honey
dash of salt

For cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 11×7 or 9×13 pan with coconut oil/butter. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil/butter, eggs, vanilla and honey. Add to dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. Pour into greased pan. Meanwhile, add raspberries, honey and salt to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat and mash with a potato masher (or a fork) until heated through and nicely mashed. Place spoonfuls of berry mixture onto cake batter.  Swirl in an “S” motion with butter knife.

Bake in oven for 25-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Watch carefully the last 5 minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t burn. If it’s getting too brown, turn down the heat a bit. Remove from oven and enjoy while warm with vanilla ice cream or non-dairy ice cream (or cooled, it is yummy both ways).

P1080137