Raised from Scratch

growing up outside the box: alternatives to processed food and television

Sweet ‘n Spicy! January 2, 2014

chili coconut cup

chili powder coconut cinnamon

almond-butter cup

Two takes on chocolate cups here: almond butter and spicy chili coconut. Both are fabulous and it’s fun to make multiple types. Variety is always appreciated in this house. I’m sometimes guilty of making small desserts because they’re easy to pop into my mouth before a-certain-someone-whose-chocolate-intake-should-be-limited walks into the kitchen and demands one as well. I try to be sneaky, but it rarely works (trying to sneak food is like trying to sneak a quickie – kids ALWAYS know and will ALWAYS interrupt no matter how preoccupied they seemed beforehand). Anyways, my “limiting” little Ella’s chocolate is often simply drawing the line at no chocolate right before bed. It’s easier to justify frequent indulgences when you only buy good seriously dark chocolate, or make it yourself. This is one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made. EVER. TRY IT!! Make enough to share, and remember that extra spicy chocolate is far less likely to be gobbled up by a child. (Heh, guess I am still a little sneaky.)

Almond Butter Chocolate Cups

Makes about 15 mini cups

¼ cup coconut oil (liquid) – warm over low heat if your oil is cool and solid

¼ cup cocoa powder or raw cacao powder – sifted!

3-4 T. pure maple syrup

Unsweetened almond butter

Whisk together in small bowl until smooth.

Fill about 1/3rd of the mini candy papers with the warm chocolate. Place in freezer 5 minutes, until chocolate is set. Place a small amount of almond butter (¼ – ½ teaspoon) on cooled chocolate, and cover with additional warm chocolate. Return to freezer 10 minutes or until chocolate is set. Best stored in the freezer.

DONE! Welcome to chocolate nirvana.

Taste buds craving a kick like mine? Try this…

Spicy Chili Chocolate

Mix coconut oil, cocoa powder and maple syrup as instructed above. Forget the almond butter and instead add ¼ t. high quality chili powder and a generous dash of ground cinnamon to your warm chocolate before filling your mini candy papers. Sprinkle a tiny amount of the chili powder and unsweetened desiccated coconut (optional) before freezing if you like the look of it, or want to make it easy to identify which chocolate you’re about to eat, because I definitely recommend getting creative with this recipe and adding whatever spices excite you.

Thanks to This Rawsome Vegan Life for posting amazing desserts such as the Give Me Chocolate Almond Butter Cups which inspired this post. This site rocks so check it out if you’re looking for more healthy inspiration!

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Banana-Coconut Cake with Agave Frosting March 6, 2013

Gluten-free banana coconut cake

Last week I turned 30, and had one of the best carrot cakes EVER to celebrate. Made out of almond flour with raisins and walnuts, topped with coconut agave frosting, containing no gluten, dairy or refined sugar, it was deliciously satisfying and just what I wanted. Total dream cake for someone who loathes a major sugar crash and the subsequent cravings for another high. I have Elena’s Pantry to thank for posting that recipe, and for inspiring this new Banana-Coconut Cake out of a necessity to use up excess frosting which I simply couldn’t let go to waste. So if you use her frosting recipe too, scale it down if you only intend to make one cake.

You’ll notice below that my measurements for this cake are in ounces and grams because I’m trying to use my scale more often, especially when creating gluten-free baked products. It can make a big difference in the finished product, and really it makes it easier for me to record amounts when I’m eye-balling ingredients. I’ve tried to include standard cup measurements as well, but do recommend using your scale if you own one. There’s so little sweetener in this cake because the frosting provides plenty, but even on its own the cake is delicious and healthy. My 3 year old and I like it best featured at one of our frequent tea parties.

I ate my birthday cake to the tune of “Older” by They Might Be Giants, which reminds you with upbeat repetition “You’re older than you’ve ever been…and now you’re even older…now you’re even older…now you’re even older.” After I frosted my Banana Cake this week and sliced some for my little Ella she started singing the tune again, replacing “older” with “sweeter”. Hopefully it’ll make your day sweeter too.

gluten-free banana coconut cake

 Banana-Coconut Cake

Free of gluten, dairy, refined sugar

2 oz coconut oil (1/4 cup)

2 ripe bananas

2 ½ oz honey (3 ¾ Tablespoons)

2 eggs, room temperature

1 t. almond extract

95 grams oat flour (scant 1 cup)

18 grams buckwheat flour (2 ½ Tablespoons)

33 grams almond flour (5 ½ Tablespoons)

42 grams unsweetened shredded coconut (about ½ cup)

1/8 t. sea salt

1 t. baking powder

1 ½ oz chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350° and grease two 6” cake pans with coconut oil. (Or substitute with one 9” cake layer and make a few muffins if you have excess batter)

Warm coconut oil in a small saucepan until smooth and clear. Move to mixing bowl, add ripe bananas and honey and mix (hand mixer is sufficient) for 1 minute. Add the eggs and extract, mixing well.

In small bowl whisk together all dry ingredients. Pour dry mix into the banana batter, mix well, then add chopped dates.

Pour into your two greased cake pans and bake 25 minutes or until skewer test is clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes, then place on cooling racks.

Frost after cooling completely (recipe link below) and store in refrigerator. *note that the frosting recipe will take about 2 hours to achieve the right consistency in the refrigerator, and a reminder that the Banana-Coconut Cake only requires less than half the original recipe

Agave Sweetened “Vegan Coconut Cream Frosting” Recipe from Elena’s Pantry

gf banana coconut cake

banana coconut cake

 

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free) November 26, 2012

Do you have “secret” ingredients in your pantry? Flavors that test taste buds’ expertise and signal the brain to taste again, and again, and again to decipher the flavor? For you adventurous cookie lovers out there, I’m sharing one with you today.

Mesquite powder, explained by Essential Living Foods, where I purchase mine:

“Mesquite is a nourishing, gluten-free flour with a mild, molasses-and-caramel flavor that blends well into everything from smoothies to baking recipes. Mesquite is a hearty tree that survives in the driest climates and is traditionally thought to bring strength to those who consume it. Its powerful, nutrient dense seeds supply protein, fiber and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc plus the amino acid lysine. With a low-glycemic index of 25, this ancient superfood is perfect for adding sweetness without spiking blood sugar.”

The molasses-caramel flavor description is pretty darn accurate, though I also explain it as a light malted cocoa sometimes. It’s unique for sure. These are sturdy cookies, great for holiday tins or any other occasion where you need a cookie that can survive long trips with the postal service. When it comes to mesquite powder a little goes a long way and the flavor is enhanced after baking, so if you taste the cookie dough and wonder if one tablespoon will be enough, believe me, it’s perfect, and the flavor will come through once they bake, inevitably provoking a “What IS that flavor?” response from tasters.

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free)

Makes 36 cookies

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

¾ t. xanthan gum

1 T. mesquite powder

1 t. baking powder

2 T. + 1 t. poppy seeds

2 cups oat flour

½ cup sorghum flour

For chocolate centers:

2-3 oz dark chocolate (such as Scharffen Berger or Baker’s)

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer at medium speed to cream the butter, then add the maple syrup and mix 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg yolks, mix on low speed until combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.

In a small bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.

Chill dough for 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 350°F. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, form cookies and place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 ½” apart. Cookies should be about 2 teaspoons in size.  Lightly coat your hands with a small amount of oat flour and gently roll each mound of dough in your hands to form a smooth ball.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon, coated with oat flour to avoid sticking, to make an indentation in the cookie dough before baking to later fill with chocolate. The indentation should be as deep as you can make it without pushing through the bottom of the cookie.

Bake at 350°F for 9 minutes, remove from oven and poke the center of the dough again (dough rises a bit during baking and you want to have enough space for chocolate). Return to oven and bake additional 2-4 minutes. Move cookies to cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before filling with chocolate.

To fill cookies: in a small heavy-bottomed pot, melt chopped chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, just until melted. Immediately remove from heat, pour or spoon chocolate into the center of each cookie. If you have extra chocolate it is great drizzled across the top as well.

Cool before storing in an air-tight container. Will keep at least one week at room temperature.

Originally inspired by “Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies” at 101 Cookbooks

 

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars with Chocolate November 2, 2012

My taste testers say these aren’t discernibly gluten-free, and that they are sweet enough on their own without the maple cream frosting. Most of these we ate without frosting, but I thought I’d frost a few for a sweeter, fancier option.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars with Chocolate

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/3 cup sorghum flour

¾ t. baking powder

1/8 t. sea salt

1 t. ground cinnamon

¼ t. ground ginger

2 T. flaxseed meal (ground flax)

2 T. almond butter

2 T. butter, melted + 1 t. for buttering pan

¾ cup pumpkin puree

3 T. maple syrup

2 T. molasses

2 eggs, lightly whisked

2 T. milk of choice

1/3 – ½ cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and butter 8×8” baking dish. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips. Mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish and top with chocolate chips. Bake 35-40 minutes until bars are set. Let cool before slicing. Makes 16 bars.

Optional Maple Cream Frosting:

½ cup cream cheese, room temperature, or mascarpone

2-3 T. maple syrup depending on desired sweetness

Mix cream and syrup in small bowl (don’t over-mix if using mascarpone) and frost cooled bars.

 

Honey-Coconut Black Rice Pudding October 28, 2012

My little one came down with a cold this weekend, so in addition to digging out the old Atari game system from the basement and finding a deck of cards for something to do with a sick toddler, I wanted to make some comfort food.

My husband and I both grew up occasionally eating tapioca pudding — it’s sweet, creamy, and easy to eat, so it was something I welcomed as a sick child. But this weekend seeing a nutrition label with lots of zeros made my eyes wander away from the tapioca box to other shelves in my pantry until…Aha! There it was: Lots and lots of Thai Black Glutinous (Sticky) Rice waiting to be appreciated. I found a 5 lb bag of this rice at a local Thai grocery store for $6.99 some time ago and it has been sadly neglected in recent months. But no more, because it’s delicious and oh so healthy! Some recipes insist you must soak the rice overnight before cooking, but others do not, so I tried both methods and found the only difference to be the soaked rice cooked in 30 minutes, versus 40 minutes needed without the soaking process. Either way, you do have to rinse this rice several times before cooking, but that only takes a minute. After rinsing, it’s no harder than cooking brown rice, so don’t be intimidated.

If you’re a fan of rice pudding, or looking for an alternative to dairy-laden processed tapioca pudding like I was, this is an awesome pudding that’s suitable for a whole-grain snack, dessert or breakfast. Also, don’t let the prunes turn you away. Seriously, if the thought of dried plums doesn’t appeal, try to recall the last time you ate one, and the last time you had one cooked in a pudding. They’re quite good, and like using dates or raisins, an easy way to sweeten foods naturally so you can skip the refined sugar.

Black rice, just like brown rice, has not been stripped of its bran hull, so it maintains all the nutrients that are lacking in processed white rice, such as fiber (8% daily recommended value), protein (4 grams), B-vitamins (20% Vitamin B-1, 8% Vitamin B-2) and iron (8% daily recommended value), as well as high levels of anthocyanins – an antioxidant found in purple and blue fruits, manganese, magnesium and selenium.

It’s so easy to boost your nutrition simply by replacing processed grains with whole-grains. Children tend to eat much less when not feeling well (and don’t we all), so it makes sense to put extra effort into offering nutritionally dense foods when their little bodies are working so hard to fight an infection. Check out an international foods market in your city, or order some of this amazing rice online.

 Honey-Coconut Black Rice Pudding

1 cup Thai Black Glutinous (sticky) Rice

6 cups water

1/8 t. sea salt

1 cup coconut milk

1 ½ T. honey (or agave for vegan pudding)

4 prunes, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

2 prunes, cut into ½” pieces

1 t. salba or chia seeds (optional)

½ t. ground cinnamon

Dash of salt

Unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish (such as Bob’s Red Mill)

Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse black rice 3-5 times in cold water, until water is mostly clear. Place in medium saucepan with tight fitting lid with 6 cups water and 1/8 t. salt. Heat to a boil, reduce to a strong simmer, cover and cook 40 minutes or until rice is tender.

Drain excess water, then return cooked rice to pot. Add coconut milk and remaining ingredients, saving shredded coconut for garnish (or add extra if you like the texture and flavor…it is delicious). Cook over low heat 3-5 minutes to desired consistency. The pudding will thicken as it cooks. Serve warm with shredded coconut.

 

Buckwheat Flax Crepes & Spiced Raisin Mascarpone (gluten-free) October 20, 2012

I have to thank Andrea Drugay for posting a recipe for Easy Flaxseed Wraps on her blog, which inspired a week-long obsession and several new recipes. The original recipe called for 100% flax, and it’s a delicious wrap, but in order to create a gluten-free crepe that I was happy with for breakfast or dessert, I decided to try using a little buckwheat flour as well. And because I’m always looking to incorporate more vegetables into my family’s diet, I tried first grated carrot, then grated zucchini and settled on the latter for this recipe. The crepes are simple to make, and the mascarpone makes them quite memorable, but it’s totally optional – the crepes are marvelous on their own, or filled with fresh peaches and cottage cheese or just bananas and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthy breakfast. No sugar is called for in the crepe batter, but a little pure maple syrup is of course a tasty complement if you’re in the mood for a sweeter treat. At the bottom of this post you’ll find a recipe scaled down to serve 1 person (2 small crepes), and more pictures of some of the many crepes I made this week.

Buckwheat Flax Crepes:

Crepes are gluten-free, sugar free and dairy free if using coconut oil

 

¼ cup buckwheat flour

½ cup flax seed meal

1 t. baking powder

1 t. ground cinnamon

¼ t. sea salt

2 T. coconut oil, earth balance or butter, melted

4 eggs

½ cup finely grated zucchini (about 1/3 medium zucchini)

2 T. water

Spiced Raisin Mascarpone Cream:

½ cup raisins

¼ t. cinnamon

1 whole clove or a dash of ground cloves

3 T. water

3 T. unsweetened pure apple juice, or water

½ cup mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)

In a small saucepan, combine raisins, cinnamon, clove, water and juice. Bring to a simmer and cook 6-8 minutes, until raisins are plump and liquid has been absorbed. Assemble crepe ingredients while raisins are cooking. Remove from heat, remove and discard clove and let cool.

In medium bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, flax meal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Pour in melted coconut oil or butter, add egg, water and zucchini, and mix well. Preheat a small nonstick pan over medium heat and lightly coat with coconut oil (a couple drops will do). Once pan is hot, pour ¼ cup crepe batter into the pan and quickly tilt the pan to evenly distribute the batter over the pan. Crepes should be thin – use just enough batter to cover your pan. Cover the pan and cook approximately 1 ½ – 2 minutes or until the batter has cooked through (no need to flip). Move crepe to a plate, lightly oil your pan again and repeat. Recipe yields 8 crepes.

Once you’ve given the raisin mixture a few minutes to cool (Remember to find and discard the clove!), pulse in a food processor 30 seconds. Move to a small bowl and fold in mascarpone, mixing well.

Serve crepes with the raisin-mascarpone cream, sliced bananas and a drizzle of maple syrup. Or forget the bananas and create a crepe cake, spreading the raisin-mascarpone cream between 4 or more layers of crepes and slice like a cake.

Amounts for 1 serving (makes 2 crepes):

1 T. buckwheat flour

2 T. flax seed meal

¼ t. baking powder

¼ t. spice (mix it up depending on your fillings)

Generous pinch of sea salt

½ T. coconut oil, earth balance or butter, melted

1 egg

2 T. finely grated zucchini

1/2 T. water

For Carrot Crepes: substitute finely shredded carrots for the zucchini

For 100% Flax Crepes: replace buckwheat with flax meal (3/4 cup total for full recipe)

 

Maple Pecan Cookies: Wheat vs. Gluten-free Oat October 16, 2012

This weekend I was baking for a small crowd coming to my house for a game of Settlers of Catan, and I wanted to make Maple Pecan Cookies to celebrate my favorite time of year. I already had a tried and true whole wheat recipe that I used a lot last year (before I went gluten-free), so I figured I’d make a batch of the wheat cookies, but also do a little experimenting to get a tasty gluten-free alternative. I made my own oat flour this time for a less refined consistency. To make your own oat flour, place gluten-free rolled oats in a food processor or blender and pulse 30-60 seconds. Here’s a helpful link to making your own flours at home.

The gluten-free oat cookies were a hit, just as tasty as the wheat version, despite the fact that I cut down on the sweetness and added a salba “egg” to help the cookie hold together without xanthan gum or real eggs. So you probably have two questions right now: What the heck is salba? and What exactly is a salba “egg”?

I didn’t know what Salba seeds were until a few months ago when my dad came to Chicago for a visit and brought me a whole bag of Salba seeds to start experimenting with (Thanks Dad – perfect gift!). Salba seeds are like white Chia seeds (that’s right, the same Chia used for “hair” on the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia pet popular in the 1980’s), which it turns out happen to be exceptionally nutritious. Salba seeds are grown under tight regulations in Peru to maintain a consistently high nutritional composition, whereas Chia seeds’ nutritional makeup are frequently diminished because they grow wild in large quantities throughout Mexico, and Central and South America, and are not subject to the same strict regulations. Don’t get me wrong though, both Chia and Salba seeds are very nutritious and, like flax seeds, super easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Read a more extensive comparison of Chia vs. Salba and all the nutritional benefits of both here.

Now to explain the Salba “egg”. At some point while browsing through blogs and recipe sites I read about a Chia egg, made by mixing 2-3 teaspoons chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and allowing the mixture to sit and congeal for about 10 minutes to use as an egg substitute. I’m all about this kind of health food magic, so I jotted the recipe down at the bottom of my notebook as a reminder to try it sometime. Even though my original whole wheat maple cookie recipe didn’t call for an egg, I know that gluten-free flours lead to cookies lacking in structure unless you add something gooey, like banana, or a gum (xanthan), or eggs. No reason to pass up a perfectly good opportunity to add lots of omega-3s, fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, iron and folate, so I tried the Salba egg structure in these cookies, and couldn’t be happier with the result!

I hope you’ll pick up a small bag of Salba or Chia if you come across them in a health food store and try this recipe out for yourself. The cookies are outrageously good, and something you can feel happy about sharing with your family and friends this fall…even the tikes.

More helpful links to recipes using Chia/Salba seed egg substitute:

Andrea Drugay – How to make Chia Egg Replacer

Real Food, Allergy Free

Gluten-free Maple Pecan Oat Cookies

Salba/chia “egg” recipe:

Mix 2 teaspoons Salba with 3 Tablespoons water and allow to sit and congeal at least 10 minutes.

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ cup maple syrup

½ t. vanilla extract

1 salba or chia egg (recipe above)

1 cup homemade oat flour

¼ t. baking powder

¼ t. sea salt

Pecan halves to place on top of cookie dough

Preheat oven to 375. Make salba/chia egg in a small bowl and allow to sit 10 minutes while assembling and mixing other ingredients. In medium bowl, use a hand mixer to cream butter, maple syrup and vanilla 30 seconds on medium speed. Add salba egg substitute, and mix until you have a smooth consistency (no visible large clumps of butter). Add oat flour, baking powder and salt and mix briefly.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, use about 2 teaspoons of batter to form each cookie. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 1” apart and top with pecan halves.

Bake 12-15 minutes. Makes 14 cookies.

Maple Pecan Wheat Cookies

½ cup butter, softened

¾ cup maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup white whole wheat flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. sea salt

Pecan halves to place on top of cookie dough

Preheat oven to 375. Using a hand mixer, cream butter, maple syrup and vanilla. Add flours, baking powder and salt and mix well. Using a 2 teaspoon cookie scoop, or two spoons, form round cookies and place 1 1/2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet (these cookies spread a little). Top with pecan halves, pressing slightly into the cookie dough.
Bake 12-13 minutes or until cookies turn a light golden brown. These are delicate when warm so allow to cool on baking sheet 3-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Makes 35 cookies.