Opposites

caprese nobake

These two items are completely opposite in nature, and that is okay with me!

First the caprese salad, which I am currently quite taken by. It is so simple and quick to make and tastes wonderful. Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, a drizzle of olive oil, fresh ground pepper and coarse sea salt. Yum!

The second photo shows the ‘best ever chocolate oatmeal no-bake bars’ which I found at mommysavingmom.com. Again, this recipe is quick and simple and delicious. I left out the nuts, raisins or dried cranberries, more for my kids’ sakes than my own, although I would never add raisins anyway. I think dried cranberries would be very good in this though. I did not have quite enough peanut butter, so I used half peanut butter and half almond butter. I have a child who detests peanut butter, so I am waiting with bated breath to see if he will like these bars. Of course, he also is not a big chocolate-lover, so it might not really matter. And these bars are quite chocolaty! I think that I might use even more oats and coconut in the future to cut down on some of that chocolate goodness.

Banana Bread

bananabread

I haven’t made banana bread for a long time. My favourite recipe makes delicious banana bread, but it uses a lot of white sugar, white flour, and vegetable oil…ingredients that I rarely, if ever, use anymore. In fact, I do not even have white sugar in my house, and, while I have all sorts of flours (quinoa, brown rice, coconut, garbanzo bean, etc.), I do not have any wheat flour. But I had some very ripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter…

So, I took my recipe, made some adaptations, and hoped that the end result would be palatable. I think it worked!

Here is the original recipe and the changes:

2 cups flour (I used a store-bought gluten-free flour mix)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup raw honey)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted)

2 large eggs

3 medium ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

3 tbsp milk

3/4 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set it aside.

2. Beat the sugar and oil until light and fluffy. (It never really got fluffy using the honey and coconut oil.) Beat the eggs in one at a time. Add the bananas. Beat thoroughly.

3. Gently stir in flour mixture, stirring only enough to moisten the dry ingredients and blend them in. Gently stir in milk and vanilla. (You could add nuts or chocolate chips at this point, if desired. 3/4 cup) Pour batter into pan and bake for one hour. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan.

Double Chocolate Brownies

 

This is another wheat-free brownie recipe from Elana’s Pantry. I really enjoyed her brownie recipe that I blogged about last month, but that recipe requires an entire jar of almond butter and I am not prepared to go through that much almond butter on a regular basis.

I followed this recipe as it is written, although I would likely try substituting honey for the agave syrup and coconut oil for the grapeseed oil if I were to make it again. The only change I did make this time was to completely ignore the walnuts, because my kids tend to not like nuts in their brownies. I don’t mind nuts in my brownies, so that might be something else I would change-up in the future.

These brownies are very rich and gooey, kind of cake-like. While they are indeed delicious, I think I actually prefer the recipe with the almond butter.

Wheat-free Baking?

I was in a baking mood today, but I am trying to avoid wheat once again. Thankfully, I have some options open to me, since my cupboards now include alternative flours.

One of my creations today was white chocolate macadamia cookies. Sam loves that type of cookie, but I seldom ever make them. I don’t know that he has tried this version yet, and he may not actually like it since they don’t taste or look exactly like the ones he might find at Subway or Tim Hortons or anywhere else! For one thing, I took a regular white chocolate macadamia cookie recipe and made substitutions based on what I had available and what I was willing to use.

I no longer have white sugar, white flour, or shortening in my house. The recipe required all three. While I do still have whole-wheat flour on hand, I can’t use it if I want to be able to eat the cookies. So, I used a combination of quinoa flour and buckwheat flour, which is actually not a grain or wheat. I used organic, natural brown sugar and organic evaporated cane juice for the sugars. For the shortening and butter, I used coconut oil.

The cookies aren’t bad; they will definitely be eaten, although Sam may be a tough sell. However, they did not spread and flatten, but maybe that is my fault. The cookies are good enough for Kane and I to eat. The ultimate taste tester will be Sam.

The other recipe I tried today was for banana bread. I found the recipe at Elana’s Pantry. I will admit to being highly skeptical about this recipe, because I have a banana bread recipe which I absolutely love, full of regular flour, sugar, and oil. My old recipe is the best banana bread I have ever tasted. How could a wheat-free recipe ever compare?

Again, I fiddled with the recipe to suit the ingredients I had on hand. Instead of vegan palm oil shortening, I used coconut oil. I ran out of almond flour, so I used half almond flour and half buckwheat flour.

I have to admit that for a recipe made without wheat, with a healthy fat, and with only 1 tablespoon of honey as a sweetener, I was definitely impressed! I was blown away. I did not expect to actually like this banana bread, but I can now say that it is a keeper and will be made again and again. It isn’t quite the same as my original recipe, but it is pretty darn close!

Chocolate Ganache Cookie Dough Squares

Here is another Damy Health recipe. (Just click on the link to see it.)

Now this recipe may not be particularly clean, but it is delicious. It is made with natural, clean ingredients; however, there is a lot of coconut oil, so this is definitely a treat. This recipe is gluten-free, vegan, and no-bake, but it does require a few hours in the freezer.

Many of the recipes found on Damy Health are super easy to make. You throw most of the ingredients in your food processor and then into the baking pan. This is another one of those quick and simple recipes. However, I did find it difficult to mix in the dark chocolate chips after blending all the cookie dough ingredients together. The dough was very stiff to work with. I did add one tablespoon of water as the dough was blending, but perhaps I should have added a second tablespoon of water. I will need to try that next time I make these squares.

The recipe calls for the squares to be in the freezer for three hours, which I found to be a little too long. I pulled mine out after two and three-quarter hours, and I had a tough time cutting my pieces. After cutting, I simply put my squares into the fridge, rather than back in the freezer.

Also, the recipe states that it makes 12 squares, but I cut mine into 16. Depending on your sweet tooth, I think you could even cut them into smaller pieces. These squares are definitely delicious, but even one sixteenth of an 8×8 pan is almost too rich for me. I like sweet and rich, but I have my limits.

I have a child who does not like peanuts or anything peanut-related. He will eat almonds and some other nuts, but he will not get past the taste of peanut. This recipe uses peanuts and cashews, but I might try almonds and cashews next time. What could it hurt?

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins

I received this recipe via email at the end of May, and I was instantly enticed by the combination of strawberries and lemon. This is another Damy Health recipe, so it is clean, gluten-free, grain-free, and delicious. Unlike many of their recipes, the ingredients are ‘normal’, which means I don’t have to wonder how to answer the dreaded ingredient questions from one of my kids. There are no chickpeas or sweet potato in these muffins!

I used 100% pure maple syrup instead of agave or raw honey, which is my first time using maple syrup as a sweetener. While I do use agave and raw honey most of the time, my decision today was based mainly on laziness. I don’t think I had quite enough agave, not without squeezing the bottle for half an hour, and my honey has become quite crystalized and I didn’t want to wait long enough to liquify it.

This was also the first time I used my mini muffin tin. I expect that the 24 mini muffins will not last very long at all, but I doubt that 12 regular sized muffins would last any longer than the minis. I do like having the option though, and I think I will use the mini muffin tin more often, especially with recipes from Damy Health. I do not follow Damy’s programs and there are no calorie counts for their recipes, but I do want to keep an eye on my portions.

Crackers

The original recipe for these crackers is called Multi “Grain” Crackers, but there are actually no grains in them at all! I made a couple of changes to the original recipe, because I did not have hemp seeds or macadamia nuts on hand and did not feel like making a trip to the bulk food store today. Instead of the macadamia nuts, I used cashews. I added a bit more flax meal and sesame seeds to make up for the lack of hemp seeds. Palm oil shortening was another ingredient that I did not have, so I used coconut oil. I used a combination of white and black sesame seeds, just because I could.

When it comes to rolling out dough, I am rather pathetic, so I did not bother trying to make perfectly uniform sized and shaped crackers. I thought I had rolled the dough as thin as I could, but I think that they could have been a bit thinner. They took longer to cook than the stated 20-25 minutes, although this could be due to the stone I baked them on or not being super thin or a combination of both.

Kane and I both like the crackers. They are different but tasty, and I think a thinner product would be even better. They are super easy to make, and I think further adaptations could be made quite simply. Some Parmesan cheese? Herbs?