Soy cheesecake

I should start this post by saying that I’m not a fan of cheesecake.  It isn’t a dessert that I really enjoy and I would take a cookie or fruit crisp any day of the week.  However, about a month ago I bought some soy creamcheese to make some faux creamcheese icing for creamsicle cupcakes.  The soy cream cheese never made it into icing because I burnt the cupcakes (it happens), so now a month closer to expiry I was trying to figure out what to do with this imitation cream cheese.

My husband and my stepdaughters love cheesecake, even though it doesn’t always love all of them back.   Our youngest had never tried cheesecake due to severe reactions to dairy so I decided to make a cheesecake that she could enjoy.

I looked at many recipes online for inspiration and had settled on this one.  It advertised itself as most excellent soy cheesecake.

As I assembled my ingredients I was a bit skeptical that anyone was going to enjoy this dessert.  Extra firm tofu, soy cream cheese and soy sour cream didn’t look like convincing substitutes when only mixed with lemon, eggs, sugar and vanilla, but at this point I was committed to the plan and had an excited 2 1/2 year old who wanted to help make cheesecake.

Here is the original recipe (with my modifications in bold):

Soy cheesecake

Crust:  1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

5 tablespoons melted margarine

Instead of graham cracker crumbs I used a 1/2 recipe of my brown sugar dough, baked in the oven about 10-12 minutes before putting the cheesecake on top.

Cheesecake: 1 1/2 cups Mori-Nu Silken Extra Firm Tofu (1 package) I used a firm, organic, non-gmo tofu

12 ounces soy cream cheese

1/2 cup soy sour cream

3 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

fresh fruit or pureed fruit for topping (I used blueberries and raspberries that sat in the fridge with a little sugar overnight)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8″ springform pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the margarine until well blended. Press evenly over the bottom and partially up the sides of your pan.

In a food processor, combine the tofu, cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar, and lemon peel. Process until blended.

Pour into the pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes more, until the cake is almost set in the center.

Turn off the oven, and leave the cake in the oven with the door open, for 20 minutes. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack. Cover the cake and chill until set, about 6 hours or overnight. Serves 8 – 10.

I have to admit at this point to not following the directions exactly. When I was pouring the cheesecake part into the shell, I had too much cheesecake so I filled up to the top of my crust and put the rest in a separate dish to bake.  At the end of baking and cooling, I put the cheesecake in the pan in fridge like the directions said, to chill overnight.  My husband and I thought the other dish would be a yummy evening snack after kids went to bed.  We were very very wrong, it was pretty disgusting actually, kind of like a curdled baked pudding, yuck!  It didn’t give me high hopes for the cheesecake the next day but at that point I had a beautiful looking faux cheesecake that my daughter was very excited to eat.

The next day when I was slicing the cheesecake to serve at the party, I noticed that it looked different than our sample the night before and actually looked like cheesecake.  I was still cutting and serving when the first reviews came in and they were great!  The texture was entirely different than the night before, creamy and delicious.  The recommended time in the fridge is an necessary part of this recipe!  Everyone loved it, some wanted seconds but there were no seconds to be had.  I even quite enjoyed it, in some ways better than I would have enjoyed a cheesecake.  Even members of the family that usually avoid anything if they hear it is gluten free, heartily enjoyed it and asked what I had made it with if I didn’t use creamcheese.  This conversation soon ended at the mention of tofu, he didn’t want to know the rest because he was enjoying it too much 🙂

Faux cheesecake = huge success!!

Advertisements

I love oats!

It may sound overly dramatic to confess that I love a grain, but I really do. When I originally went gluten free it was a step at a time (someday I will write about this and why I think it is the wrong way to become gluten free and why I think celiac testing is important before starting a gluten free diet). I was having severe digestive issues, my naturopath at the time suggested I stop eating wheat. I felt wonderful! Within days all my symptoms went away, I was still eating all the other non-gluten and gluten containing grains. As I got more proficient with cooking with grains I previously hadn’t really eaten often such as spelt, kamut and barley, I noticed one by one I was becoming far less tolerate and gradually began having the same reaction to each of them that I got when I ate wheat. Spelt and kamut were the first to go which made sense since they are ancient forms of wheat so many people react to them the same as they do to wheat, then barley wasn’t worth the consequences. Aside from being sad about missing out on my grandma’s cabbage rolls, losing barley wasn’t a big deal for me. Then very, very sadly I needed to say good bye to my 100% rye bread that I loved so much. That is one that I still miss and wish I could eat again. I was left with non-gluten grains and oats. I was ok, I loved oats and rice.

Then gradually I started to notice that if I ate too may oats I started to have issues. I was in denial for quite a while but eventually cut out the oats and felt much better. For years, I really missed oats. Then a few years ago, research came out proving that oats as a grain don’t contain gluten. They get contaminated through farming and processing and all commerical brands contained traces of wheat, barley or rye (usually wheat). This made sense, this meant that oats had to lowest levels of gluten and that is was only due to contamination that most gluten sensitive people were unable to tolerate oats. It took a few years but now there are many wonderful companies that sell oats that are gluten free (free from traces of wheat, rye and barley). These companies have farms that are dedicated to only growing oats and not other grains as well and use dedicated machinery and processing for their oats. At the end of the process assays are preformed to make sure the gluten level is below the minimum allowed level to qualify as gluten free These companies include Creamhill estates and Only Oats are the ones I most often buy. Some celiacs do react to the oat proteins (avenins) in a negative way and it isn’t recommended that celiacs eat more than 50-70 gram of pure oats/day. I also is generally recommended to wait until someone stabilizes on a gluten free diet before adding the pure oats in so that you can see if someone is reacting to them in a negative way. Having pure oats available can help someone who is celiac or gluten sensitive with variety in whole grains.

Oats are a great source of iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins.  Oats can help reduce stress and in nursing moms can increase milk supply.  Oat bran can decrease cholesterol (though I have found it hard to find gluten free oat bran).  The fibre content in oats keeps you feeling full longer and keeps blood sugars stable, this is good news for diabetics, pre-diabetics and people trying to lose weight. And they are yummy!

I love oats as granola, as breakfast oatmeal with pecans and cranberries, in my favourite crispbread recipe (I love to use steel cut oats in it best, tastes like the oat cakes I used to love before becoming gluten free!) and in these tasty cocoa sunflower almond butter balls.

Enjoy some oats!

Gluten Free in Guelph

My husband and I just got back from doing a pre-Valentine’s, pre-anniversary getaway. Since it was out little one’s first sleepover at Nana’s house we needed a nearby destination in case things were going poorly (luckily it all went well). So we chose to make out getaway this year to Guelph. When people heard we were having a getaway they seemed a bit incredulous that our destination was so close but it was perfect. Our goals weren’t big, spend some time together, have a nice dinner out, browse around my favourite bookstore and going to a movie without having to hire a sitter or see a movie with talking animals in it. Goals accomplished! Before going to Guelph I did a little research into gluten free options and was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few places that see were gluten free friendly. Some things were hits, others not quite as enjoyable but I thought I would write about some of the best things I found.
My favourite find on this trip was The Other Brother Restaurant http://www.otherbrothers.ca/. This is a quote from their website “most of our dishes are or can be prepared without gluten. Additionally, we have 3 – 4 desserts that are celiac friendly also. We are now offering gluten free pastas as part of our regular menu format. The 3 course fondue dinner can be gluten free with substitutions. We would be happy to make a gluten free six course surprise dinner if we are given 48 hours notice. So we encourage our “glutenly challenged” friends to come to The Other Brother’s and really enjoy dining out again.” Our visit to the restaurant was wonderful. It had a lovely atmosphere, cozy and romantic. The servers were very knowledgable and the food was spectacular! Often in restaurants food is made gluten free by leaving off sauces and anything with flavour and you might be left feeling safe but not very satisfied. I’ve been out many times and other people have lovely looking meals and I have the plain jane gluten free friendly meal that makes me wish I’d stayed home and done the cooking myself. This absolutely wasn’t the case, all substitutions were seamless and I wouldn’t have known that the dishes had been modified if I hadn’t been told that I was getting a gluten free version. For example, my flourless chocolate torte (best ever!) came with cassis sorbet and a the tastiest meringue cookie I’ve ever tasted rather than the flour based cookie it would have come with if I hadn’t specified I needed it to be gluten free. My cabernet braised oxtail with seared sea scallop and my duck confit with citrus vegetables were also delicious. Next time we’ll try the 6 course gluten free surprise menu!
Another great Guelph Gluten free surprise was Portions, a gluten free store http://www.portionscanada.com/. The entire store was gluten free and included a large freezer section of prepared foods for gluten free convenience. They also have a large number of pantry items and some freshly baked items. We did find some delicious foods that I had never tried. The Molly B’s gluten free bagels were yummy toasted (though I strongly would advise not trying them without toasting) and the Mrs. Crimbles Cheese Bites were light, delicate, cheesy, baked crackers that were delicious. We also found my favourite gluten free wraps, made from millet and teff http://latortillafactory.com/products-6.aspx. I buy these sometimes when I can find them in a Metro grocery store but they are difficult to find. My favourite find at Portions was Conte’s Pasta Potato & Onion Pierogies http://www.contespasta.com/specialty.htm. I haven’t had Pierogies in over 10 years and was so excited to eat them. We boiled them and then pan cooked them with onions and bacon and I think they may have been one of the tastiest (while not the healthiest) meal I’ve had lately! I’m inspired to try to make my own gluten free pierogies, if I’m successful I will post them down the line. Also in Guelph, I purchased a tortilla press that I’m excited to experiement with soon!
I went to university in Guelph so there was a big nostalgia factor that extended all the way to wandering around campus, seeing my old dorm room and visiting the university centre. One thing that I was happily surprised by was seeing at the university cafeteria one of the entrees posted on the menu board was labelled as gf (gluten free). It made me happy to see that options were getting easier for students trying to be gluten free. In some closer to home news, I found out when visiting The Butcher The Baker here in Stratford (to pick up the bacon for the pierogies) that all of their sausages are gluten free. Their turkey sausage is some of the best I’ve ever had! Stay tuned for more yummy gluten free finds!

Gluten free crispbread

Recipe for the world’s best gluten free crispbread

** This recipe makes a very large quantity of crispbread – I usually cut the recipe in half and use only one cookie sheet.  Another option is to freeze crispbread and take pieces out of the freezer a few minutes before you want to eat it.
This crispbread is more like a whole grain cracker with nuts than a bread, crispy and delicious.  My favourite breakfast is crispbread with some goat cheese, sheep toscano cheese or old cheddar with an apple or some fresh berries. It is a delicious, satisfying breakfast full of protein and good fats to keep blood sugar nice and balanced right through until lunch time.  This crispbread is also delicious with nut butter or jam. I love this recipe because it is really versatile and stands up well to substitution based on sensitivities,current kitchen supplies or what I’m craving on a particular day.

Ingredients

1 ½ cup quinoa flour
½ cup millet flour
250 g flaked or rolled cereal (2 cups) such as quinoa flakes or gluten free rolled oats/steel cut oats or oat groats
120 g sesame seeds (roasted), chopped pecans, chopped walnuts or sliced almonds– a little less than a cup
50 g sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (a heaped ½ cup) or additional ground flaxseeds
50 g ground almonds or hazelnuts (heaped ½ cup)
20 g of flaxseeds (1/4 cup)
6 tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil
2 teaspoons of sea salt
375 ml of cold water
For extra flavor add 1 – 2 cloves of crushed garlic, onion powder, thyme, basil, oregano or other herbs as desired.
•  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
•  Mix flour together with all the dry ingredients.
•  Add oil and water and mix together to make a thick dough.
•  Line 2 baking sheets in parchment paper.  Divide dough between the cookie sheets.  Use an additional piece of parchment paper or a piece of plastic wrap on top of dough and use your hands to press the dough to cover the whole baking sheet.
•  Cut the rolled out dough in squares (no need to cut right through).  A pizza cutter works great.
•  Bake at 475 degrees for 7 minutes
•  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 – 25 minutes.
•  Remove crispbread immediately from cookie sheet and allow to cool.
•  To keep crispbread fresh, store in cookie tin or ziploc bag.
Flour may be replaced with another type of grain flour if desired. Different seeds and nuts may also be substituted if desired.

Whole Grain Gluten Free Yeast Free Bread

I’m going to start with my most recent yummy recipe for gluten free, yeast free, sugar free (and optionally dairy free) bread.  I love this recipe because it is versatile and whole grain rather than filled with starches and gums like many gluten free breads.  This recipe also seems to stand up well to substitutions, if you don’t have all of the types of flours in your house you can try to make some substitutions.
 
Whole Grain Gluten Free Yeast Free Bread
 
1 cup quinoa flour (or gluten free all purpose flour)
¾ cup brown rice flour (or ½ cup buckwheat + 1/8 cup gluten free oats + 1/8 cup teff
                                       or ½ buckwheat flour+ ¼ cup coconut flour)
¼ cup millet flour
¼ cup ground flaxseed
¼ cup gluten free oats or quinoa flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
3 eggs
¼ cup sparkling water or club soda or regular water (if will rise more with bubbles)
2/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt, dairy or non-dairy, sheep yogurt works wonderfully
1Tbsp honey or brown rice syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (optional)
gluten free oats, sesame seeds, seeds or other toppings to go on top of the bread (optional)
 
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Whisk together dry ingredients except for seeds and ingredients used to top the bread and set aside.
Beat the eggs till frothy, add the remaining liquid ingredients and blend well.
Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly incorporated.  Add the seeds last.
Scoop dough into an oiled 9 x 5 metal loaf pan and sprinkle with any toppings.  Bake 35-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and a nice crust has formed.  The internal temperature should be around 190 F.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove the bread from the pan to finish cooling before slicing.
 

My Favourite Salad of the moment

I used to dislike beets, then I liked beets  ok and this salad makes me LOVE beets!  This is a favourite recipe in our house, healthy and yummy.

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Salad

6-12 beets

Juice of 1 lemon

1 package of soft goat cheese

1/2 cup – 1 cup walnut halves

Greens (optional)

Wash beets and cut off the ends.  Rub the beets in olive oil, lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet lines with foil or parchment paper.  Roast beets at 400 degrees for about 1 hour.  When you can put a fork fairly easily into the beet, take them out and submerge into ice water for 10 seconds (this makes them easier to peel).  Peel the beets, slice the beets and then squeeze the juice of 1 lemon on the beets, add some salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a dry frying pan, add the walnut halves and toast until you can smell the walnuts. 

If using greens, get the greens washed and spun dry (this salad is good even without the greens).  Add the beets to the greens, add the walnuts, crumble the goat cheese and toss lightly.  Delicious and healthy!