Wake up to Orange Poppy Seed Goodness

I’m convinced the key to living gluten-free isn’t as much changing your lifestyle, as much as it’s about adapting.  While I have some great gluten-free cookbooks and often use specialty diet products, I rely for the most part on mainstream recipes and “tweak” them to our dietary needs. The benefits of this approach are many.

For one, you’ll quickly see that a gluten-free diet isn’t about doing without. We eat sandwiches and pasta, bake cookies and consume pizza. I use the same family favorite recipes on a gluten-free diet.  If you are going to live GF for more than a few weeks, you need to adapt and evolve your baking and cooking so you don’t feel limited. You can still gobble your grandma’s coffee cake recipe. All you need to do is learn to  alter or substitute a few items.  You’ll enjoy life without wheat if you can evolve.

Another benefit is saving cash. It’s a lot cheaper to eat gluten-free if you can temper buying mixes and pre-made items. Yeah, we love Shabtai Bakery’s GF and dairy free devil’s food cake, creme filled Ring Tings, which are remarkably “Ding Dong-esque” and yummy. Shabtai’s creation might be better than the real Hostess item, I believe.  And I order boxes of the confection to fulfill our cravings here. And we do use prepared items for “on the fly” cooking here, which I regularly review. But if you know that you can make at least most of your gluten-free daily diet  delicious in your own kitchen,  you’ll be able to limit spending for the items that are truly worthwhile or  necessary.

Modeling the adaptive lifestyle rubs off on GF kids and helps them understand how to tweak recipes and make lifestyle choices that fit their diet. Someday they will grow up and have to make choices to fit in a wheat-based world. While GF is more mainstream, it’s a far cry from the “norm” in many parts of the country.  Your kids will have to adapt, watch pennies while on a GF diet and enjoy eating. 

Pull out those old tried and true recipes and start revising for your GF diet. You might have to tweak a bit and it might take a few attempts for real success, but you’ll quickly learn the ropes.

This week, I’ve been spotlighting  breakfast ideas and items. The recipe below is our family favorite that I’ve made for nearly 25 years frequently. Just a few changes made it as moist, flavorful and delicious as it’s always been. You wouldn’t know it’s gluten and dairy free. While it’s not a “low-calorie” option, it makes a great way to start the day. I use almond extract in lieu of vanilla often, by the way, as it’s more flavorful and blends nicely with gluten-free flours, but you can substitute vanilla if you’d like with good results. Make this the night before, as it’s best the next day. Keep all gluten-free items tightly wrapped to prevent drying.

Good morning!!!

Gluten-Free Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze

Makes 2 loaves

3 cups GF  flour mixture ( see below)

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon xanthen gum

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup milk (or substitute almond milk or soy milk)

1 1/2 cup oil

3 teaspoons poppy seed

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 tablespoon almond flavoring

***GLAZE***

1/4 cup orange juice

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1-2 teaspoons almond flavoring

Grated orange peel

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat granulated sugar, eggs, oil and milk/milk substitute in large bowl.

Combine GF flour mixture, salt, baking powder and xanthen gum. (I use a wisk to mix well)

Add dry ingredients to egg mixture. Beat well with mixer till combined, while scraping bowl. (GF flour is heavy and sinks to the bottom, so you’ll want to keep stirring well)

Stir in poppy seeds, orange  and almond extract.

Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For Glaze:

Blend glaze ingredients in bowl.  Brush onto baked loaves while warm.

Using all of the glaze will keep the loaves moist and extra flavorful, and avoid the dried out effect you often get with gluten-free baked goods.

Flour Mixture:

1 part brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca starch

Or you can try these options for flour mixtures.

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Break-the-Fast With Van’s Waffles

As part of my spotlight on breakfast this week, I’m selecting family favorite products and tossing in a few recipes to beat the morning “blahs.” Stay tuned as we go through a week of GF options to recharge your diet and your appetite.

A great reason  to get up and face the world comes from Van’s Natural Foods. You’ll love Van’s gluten AND dairy-free frozen waffles in a variety of truly scrumpteous flavors- Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Totally Natural, Flax, and Buckwheat. BTW, don’t let the Buckwheat variety scare you off.  Buckwheat, in spite of the name, is a  fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel and is 100 percent gluten-free. (whew) Packed with hearty flavor, buckwheat also is nutrition-dense and full of flavonoids and magnesium, so it makes a perfect choice to start your day.

Our family favorite is  blueberry, but each of Van’s waffle varieties are consumed en masse here with much enjoyment.  You’ll also find in some stores, the Van’s “Minis” – which like most small items–are favored by kiddos and make a nice snack. All of Van’s GF Waffles are  made with whole grain brown rice flour and are  fruit juice sweetened. Van’s regular sized frozen waffles are readily available in most mainstream grocery store chains and in health food stores, but you might have to hunt a bit in some areas for the minis.

 

Winning Cupcake War Recipe Tweaked to Gluten and Casein Free

This is the original Food Network Cupcake Wars recipe that’s been tweaked by me. I’ve used the tips gleaned from pastry chef Lisa Cowden, who won the Cupcake Wars: Survival of the Fittest with this slam dunk treat. You’ll find another version she kindly offered to me here.  Even those as under developed in culinary skills- as I am- can bake this recipe successfully. Albeit, the kitchen was quite destroyed. And I’m reasonably certain the Board of Health would not approve the cat licking agave drippings from the table whilst the baking process proceeded…but even lacking the prowness of a pastry chef- these were beyond delicious.

Rich Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes by Lisa Cowden

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups gluten free mix (plus 3/4 tsp xanthan gum if not included in mix)
  • 11/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 9 ounces unsalted butter, softened (See this post on butter and casein. You can also substitute soy margarine such as Willow Run or butter flavored vegetable shortening)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (If casein intolerant, substitute lactose free milk ,soy milk, or almond milk mixed with 1 tsp cider vinegar – but be sure to add the vinegar for chemical reaction with baking soda)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon GF vanilla extract
  • Caramel Cream Center, recipe follows
  • Ganache, recipe follows
  • Prepared blue rock sugar, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 30 regular-size cupcake or muffin cups with paper cupcake liners or line 6 dozen (72) mini cupcake or mini muffin cups with mini cupcake liners.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Sift the cocoa powder in a separate bowl. Whisk the hot water into the cocoa until smooth. In bowl of electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and add the cocoa mixture. Beat just until smooth. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4-full and bake the regular-size cupcakes for 20 minutes, or until cooked through or bake the mini cupcakes for 19 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely. Fill with Caramel Cream Center and top with Ganache Frosting and the prepared blue rock sugar.

Caramel Cream Center:

  • 6 ounces egg whites, from about 5 whole eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 12 ounces to 1 pound unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces ( Or substitute soy margarine such as Willow Run)
  • 1/2 teaspoon GF vanilla extract
  • 1 batch Agave Caramel Sauce, recipe follows

Warm the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler, stirring the egg mixture until the sugar dissolves and the mixture feels warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and whip until medium-stiff peaks form. With the mixer running, gradually add the softened butter and vanilla until thick and smooth. Fold in the Agave Caramel Sauce until fully incorporated. Place the Caramel Cream Center in a pastry bag fitted with pastry tip and fill the cooled cupcakes.

Cook’s Note: The yield for the Caramel Cream Center is more than needed. The extra can be used as frosting or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and stir, before using.

Agave Caramel Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 ounce sugar (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light agave nectar
  • 5 ounces cream (Substitute heavy coconut milk for creme if casein intolerant.Use only the cream part. Discard liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened – (or substitute soy margarine such as Willow Run)
  • 1/4 teaspoon GF vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat the water over high heat until hot but not boiling. Add the sugar and the agave and stir gently to dissolve. Bring the mixture to a boil, and heat to 330 degrees F, or to a warm brown color. Add the cream slowly, whis

Lisa's Rich Chocolate Carmel Cupcake

king constantly, the caramel will bubble and rise. Add the butter and continue whisking over the heat until the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Chill the mixture to thicken.

Ganache:

  • 3 cups heavy cream (Substitute heavy coconut milk for creme if casein intolerant. Use only the cream. Discard liquid)
  • 24 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (recommended: Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • Ice bath, in shallow bowl

 In a saucepan, heat the cream to scald. Add the chocolate chips. Stir the mixture until smooth. Chill on the ice bath until a spreadable consistency, stirring frequently. Frost the filled cupcakes with the ganache and garnish with the prepared rock sugar.

**** For gluten-free flour mix recipes check here
**** Alternate recipe from Lisa Cowden
**** Additional ganache options for the gluten and casein free diets

Gluten-Free Flour Mixes for Baking

Photo by Emily Carlin

 

You’ll find three options here for making your own gluten-free flour mixes. I opt for keeping two kinds on hand. We like the first recipe for cakes, cookies and lighter fare. The sorghum adds a nice texture and imparts a very good taste  without being overpowering. I substitute cornstarch for tapioca at times, with no real noticeable differences.  At times I’ll try out another cake-like variety and I’ll mix up a big batch of the middle recipe. As far as the latter recipe, we like that for breads, pizza crusts and biscuits or heavier or denser items. You’ll find masa harina in the Mexican section of most grocery stores and it’s wonderfully cheap (a boon for the budget of GF families.) You must store all GF flours in the fridge or freezer, as they can become rancid at room temperatures rather quickly. Keep them covered in large, tightly covered containers or ziplock bags. 

Gluten Free Cake Flour Mix -From Gluten-Free Cooking School
1 part brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca starch 

Gluten-Free Cake Flour Mix- From Gluten-Free Bay 

3 cups brown rice flour (fine ground)
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 teaspoons guar gum ( I used xantham gum with equally good results) 

Sift ingredients together, combining thoroughly. Use in place of flour in cakes and other baked goods. Store in airtight container or ziploc bag in refrigerator. 

All-Purpose Gluten Free, Soy Free Flour Mix – From Gluten-Free Cooking Cooking School 

3 parts brown rice flour
3 parts cornstarch
2 parts sorghum flour
1 part masa harina or corn flour 

When baking gluten-free,  it’s likely you’ll need to add xanthan gum or guar gum to the recipe for the “elastic” quality that simulates normal consistency of baked goods-unless of course, the mix already has this added to it. (If you use a commercially made mix, check the package prior to using it in a recipe, as you definitely do NOT want to accidentally double or delete this ingredient.) 

It’s wise to keep some on hand for converting regular recipes. I opt for xanthan in my home. Though it seems pricey, a little goes a long, long way…A word to the wise- you’ll seriously ruin your baked goods by overdoing the xanthan or guar gum inclusions. I added 1 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp (doubling it by mistake) only to find my cookies were…almost “slimy” (eewwww).  Thankfully, it’s a texture you don’t experience much in the kitchen otherwise.  We don’t like guar gum here, because it’s got some interesting laxative properties that only exacerbate some people’s existing digestive issues – but it might work for you and not offer the same ill effects it does here. As a rule of thumb, you can usually replace one for the other in the exact quantities specified.  

Though some recipes or GF chef’s will use a higher percentage of xanthan gum, I opt for the sage advice below – culled from “What’s Cooking America.”  

“Most gluten-free flours will require the addition of xanthan or guar, a substitute binder used to compensate for the lack of gluten.  The amount needed to add will depend on the type of product and it’s reliance on the gluten structure. Breads rely heavily on gluten for their structure, cakes to a lesser extent, and cookies almost none. Typically the starchier and/or more refined the crumb, the less the reliance on gluten.   Xanthan gum tends to be almost three times as expensive, and in the US is grown off of corn syrup (but tests out corn-free in the lab after processing).  Some gluten-free groups discourage the use of guar because of the higher fiber (and therefore possible laxative effect) of large amounts of guar gum use.  Try both and see.  If these gums are not appropriate for you, some suggest the use of mung bean (AKA green bean) flour (1/8 of cup to every cup flour) or pre-gelled potato flour.” 

“Suggestions for the addition of xanthan or guar: For every cup of wheat-free/gluten-free flour use:
 
½ teaspoon Xanthan/guar gum for cakes
 
1 teaspoon Xanthan/guar gum for breads or pizza
 
½ teaspoon to no xanthan/guar gum for most cookies.”
 

Chocolate of the Gods: Don’t Tell the Kids What’s in This and Everyone Will Enjoy It

Question: What’s green and brown and goes “whir”? 

Answer:  Something amazingly delicious – that’s what –  even and in spite of the combined ingredients.

I’m a foodie. But if you’ve read anything about our family, we aren’t the health food sort. By this I mean, we don’t milk our own goats or grind our own grain. I do not want to learn these skills either. While we enjoy almost any vegetable, fruit or similarly “good for you” item, we also enjoy tater tots (Ore Ida- a top choice of harried gluten-free moms) and yes, we eat hot dogs and cakes and candies.  I’d call us “non-selective” feeders and mainstream eaters, apart from being gluten-free, that is.

We’ve nixed enough items to be gluten and casein-free that I’m not up for cutting real, honest to God sugar from our diet and I don’t venture  off the grid into the land of odd combinations or substitutions. Hence, while we eat non-selectively- the healthy and the unhealthy- we don’t make any real steps into the extremes.  And I’d have never tried this combination below were it not for the advice of Lisa Cowden, award winning pastry chef and purveyor of delicious food.

Chocolate mousse is a near impossibility when you are gluten and casein-free.  Cream is the main component in chocolate mousse and cream – lest you haven’t heard- is chock full of nasty proteins called caseins. Apparently, “Chocolate of the Gods” isn’t a new recipe, but it was new to me. If I’d have found this before an expert told me to try it, I’d have run screaming from the kitchen. I say all of this to preface the below recipe for you. It’s delicious. It’s rich. You’ll fool your family and friends into thinking it’s real mousse. And these words come from the most die-hard chocoholic and normal eater, so please try it.

Yeah, it’s got avocados and maple syrup and chocolate in it.(OMG)  But don’t dwell on the ingredients. Once you taste this confection, your palate will thank you. You can also use this for the ganache frosting on Lisa’s cupcake recipes or alternately for any chocolate frosting or filling. It’s incredibly thick, so bear in mind it’s best for recipes you need a stiffer frosting or filling. If you eat it as mousse, it’s super rich. Top it with some whipped coconut cream to lighten up the taste if you desire. 

There are many versions of “Chocolate of the Gods” online. This is a variation I tweaked a bit to our taste and the ingredients I had on hand, based on recipes from Food.com and Spectacularily Delicious.com. Since we almost never have gluten-free soy sauce on hand I omitted that, although some Chocolate of the Gods recipes  do call for it. I’m not sure what difference that makes, since ours turned out wonderfully without it. I used almond extract as we enjoy that flavor best with chocolate, but you can also use vanilla, peppermint or orange GF extracts. It was- I must admit- an “Oh My God” moment in the kitchen when I tasted it. Wow. I promptly fed this to three of my kids, including one adult daughter and her boyfriend who were visiting. Not one person thought it was anything but very rich, decadent dark chocolate mousse. Go and create chocolate lusciousness and may the force be with you…

Chocolate of the Gods

Ingredients 

 

  • 2 large Hass avocadoes, cubed or 1 large florida avocado
  • 1/2 cup REAL maple syrup, plus 2 Additional Tablespoons REAL Maple Syrup
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or regular vegetable oil (coconut oil does add the best taste)
  • 2 teaspoons GF almond extract (or peppermint, vanilla or orange GF extract)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (no substitutions)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (use the best variety you can find)

Directions

  1. Place first six ingredients (avocadoes up to and including basalmic vinegar) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. [Do NOT use a blender as it purees into watery green frog-like soup]
  2. Sift cocoa powder with a metal strainer to remove lumps, then stir into avocado mixture and blend until smooth. [Make sure you blend it well, but don’t over process. Globs of unmixed cocoa aren’t very tasty]
  3. At this point you can refrigerate the pudding in a tightly-sealed container for up to a week or freeze it for up to a month.
  4. Serve chilled, layered with coconut whipped cream and strawberries or raspberries or top with a giant dollop of coconut whipped cream and fresh mint sprigs. Or use for frosting or chocolate filling in bakery items. Doubles as a decadent ganache! Yum!!!

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