Monday, January 31, 2011

Chocolate and Avocados

What can you make with Chocolate and Avocados? A delicious Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free, peanut free, egg free, corn free Chocolate pudding of course!

My son loves pudding. LOVES it. Whenever we go to the store and he sees the snack packs, he says something along the lines of, "please please pleeeeeeeeease?" Because of his food sensitivities, the answer is always "no."

So, I looked online to see if I could find a good chocolate pudding recipe and try to adapt it to my lifestyle, and lo and behold, I found a recipe over on one of my FAVORITE BLOGS, Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.  Ali is a WHIZ in the kitchen with her AMAZING RECIPES.  But I will tell you this, her recipe for Avocado Fudgesicles is what got me hooked on her blog.

So, I decided to add my own twist to her recipe, and this is what I came up with:

**For those uninterested in "grasshopper" pudding, substitute more vanilla in place of the Peppermint extract.**


8 pitted dates
1/2 Cup water
3 medium Avocados (or one jumbo)
1 Cup Cashew Milk
1/4 Cup RAW ORGANIC Agave Nectar
5-7 TBSP Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Pure Gluten Free Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Peppermint extract
Pinch of mineral rich Sea Salt

You will do best with a high powered blender such as a Vitamix, but you will probably do fine with a regular blender, you may just need to blend the ingredients longer.

Put dates in to the blender, and cover with the 1/2 cup of water. Let soak for 30-45 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend on high until you have a creamy, non lumpy mixture.

You can either pour in to individual sized bowls and serve as pudding, or pour in to Popsicle molds and make fudgesicles. If you freeze them, freeze them for AT LEAST 6 hours, as Ali says in her recipe.

Any way you do it, it's delicious!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I don't know about you, but I have ALWAYS loved cookies. Baking cookies reminds me of the days of my childhood, when my mother would let me lick the cookie dough off the beaters, and the smell of sweet cookies baking on a cool evening. Cookies cooling off on a brown paper bag just takes me back to simpler times. Times when my grandparents were both still alive, and after my grandmother died and my grandfather (who happened to be my best friend growing up) would still bake me delicious cookies just because he loved me so much. (I still use the cookie sheets that they used my whole life, because for some reason it makes me even happier to bake with them).

When I went Gluten free, I thought my days of cookies were gone. And then I searched online and found gluten free cookie recipes, and thought I had died and gone to heaven! But then I would bake them, and taste them, and all the dread came back. I was never going to have a tasty chocolate chip cookie again, and my son would never have those memories when he's an adult... the memories of baking cookies with mom and anxiously anticipating the moment when they got out of the oven and all the hard work payed off with the first delicious bite.

Then I discovered Silvana Nardone's All Purpose Flour Mix, and took an old Chocolate Chip cookie recipe I had and through a little trial and error, adapted it (deliciously) to my dietary limits.

Are you ready to taste heaven again? Here are some pictures to get you ready...

This recipe makes about 18 cookies... And no one but you and I have to know that they are Gluten and Refined-Sugar free! (They wouldn't believe you anyway).

1 Cup plus 3 TBSP GF All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Corn Free Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp mineral rich sea salt 
1/2 Cup NON HYDROGENATED Palm Shortening
1/2 Cup packed Refined sugar free light brown sugar
1/4 Cup Coconut/Palm sugar
1 medium egg + 2 TBSP unsweetened applesauce (**please see notes below marked with **)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Cup Chocolate chunks made from my chocolat recipe

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium glass bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended.
3. In a separate bowl, mix (with your mixer) together the shortening, brown sugar, palm sugar for about 2 minutes. Then add the egg and applesauce and vanilla. Mix together for another 2 minutes until the mixture is creamy.
4. Add the wet ingredients in to the dry ingredient bowl, and mix together until it is well blended and there are no chunks of flour left. Add the chocolate chunks to the mixture and mix it in with a wooden spoon. You can also add raisins, or nuts at this time if you would like to.
5. Using a 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, or a rounded tablespoon, drop the cookie dough on to the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.
6. Place the cookie sheet in oven (one sheet at a time) for 8-10 minutes. You can go a minute or two longer if you like a crunchier cookie. I like mine soft.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet for about 2-3 minutes. Then using a spatula, place the cookies on to either a wire cooling rack or on a flattened brown paper bag. (I prefer the latter for both memories and for soaking up any extra oils).
8. Let cool a few minutes longer, eat and enjoy!

I eat mine with a nice glass of cold Cashew Milk.

 **OR enough ENER-G egg replacer for one large egg, OR 1 TBSP ground flax meal + 3 TBSP Warm Water, OR 1/4 Cup applesauce (The recipe calls for one large egg, but you can use any one of these options)

My own Pesto and a Daiya Cheese review

So, being gluten and dairy free, and being the obsessive researcher that I am, I look at lots of blogs on this topic. There is all this buzz about the blogosphere on Daiya cheese... I had never heard of it, and couldn't find it anywhere...

Lo and behold, today, while at one of my favorite fresh markets, (Sunflower Farmer's Market that is) I walked by the dairy ("dairy") aisle and saw in brand new fashion a package of DAIYA CHEESE sitting there... granted, it is a little pricier than regular cheese, but at $3.99 a bag, I thought I would try it and see what all the kerfuffle is about.

Here are some pictures of the package so you can get an idea about what I am working with:

As you can see, it's definitely not NOT a whole food, but it is definitely not something made from scary ingredients either. But does it taste good?

Well, I tasted it, and I have to say it tastes a LOT better than the rice cheese I have used in the past. So, I decided to make a dairy free (vegan) Pesto. And, let me just say, that the finished product is DELICIOUS.

So, I love pesto. I don't know about all of you, but it happens to be my favorite thing at Italian restaurants. But, pine nuts? $19.95 per pound? Yeah, right. I instead use RAW sunflower seeds. Much more cost effective, and just as tasty if you ask me.

I also get my fresh basil at Sunflower Market, which just so happens to be right up the street from me, making my life so much easier... It's about $4.95 for a big bag of ORGANIC Basil!

So, typically, the recipe calls for, (and I want to note that up until the last month, I have been using) PARMESAN SHREDDED CHEESE, but since going Dairy free, that's not an option for me. So, in steps the Daiya... Here is the recipe and some pictures for you.

2 cups PACKED fresh basil leaves
1/3-1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (or pine nuts)
3 cloves of fresh garlic (or I use the minced garlic, and use about 1 1/2 teaspoons of it)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Daiya cheese (or Parmesan)

In a food processor, add the fresh basil leaves and sunflower seeds and garlic and pulse it a few times until everything looks really chopped up. Then add the salt and pepper, pulse again. Add the cheese and turn the food processor on, while pouring in the olive oil fairly slowly.

That's it. Taste it, make sure it's the consistency you like, and then just eat it and enjoy it!

It will stay good in the fridge for about a week, but it freezes really well. I like to freeze mine in individual snack size plastic baggies and then just defrost it with warm water when I want to use it. I don't cook mine, because I like the raw pesto best, but you can definitely cook yours if that is the way you like it.

Me personally? I like to put it on toast and devour. :)

If you are curious about the bread that I use, it is called UDI'S WHOLE GRAIN BREAD. It is SO SO SO GOOD.

I think that I can safely say that Daiya Cheese is now among Udi's Bread as the only product of it's kind that I will buy when I buy it.

With Love,

**DISCLAIMER** Udi's Bread is NOT sugar free or egg free. Please make a note of that before purchasing. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Refined Sugar Free Brown Sugar

Well hello there! I just made a DELICIOUS batch of Gluten/Dairy/Refined Sugar/Corn free Chocolate Chip cookies!

I am so excited about this! I will post about it shortly, but first, I want to tell you all about how to make HOMEMADE Brown Sugar!

Today I used Palm Sugar. Palm Sugar is low on the glycemic index, which means it won't raise your blood sugar as fast as refined white sugar.

And, Plantation Brand Black Strap Molasses. Black Strap Molasses is AN EXCELLENT source of Iron!

All you need to make your own Brown sugar is this:

1 Cup Palm Sugar
1 1/2 TBSP Black Strap Molasses

Mix together in a bowl with a fork until it is completely coated, then add to your recipes that call for it! If you aren't going to use all that you made, you can put the remainder in to an air tight container in your pantry, or in your refrigerator.

1 Cup Palm Sugar
1/4 Cup Black Strap Molasses

The instructions for mixing are the same as already mentioned.

Good luck, and ENJOY!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Say it like the Frenchies. It sounds better.

I have been experimenting with making Chocolate to break apart and add to recipes that call for chocolate chips or chocolate chunks. I have not been able to find any chocolate that isn't sweetened with refined sugar or cane sugar. Cane sugar is high on the glycemic index and so I stay away from it. That goes for Honey too. I do allow a little honey in to my diet every once in a while, but definitely not on a regular basis. If I can help it, I use other sweeteners.

So I purchased some UNSWEETENED 100% CHOCOLATE at Target a few days ago, and have been trying it out a little at a time. Today I made Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks.

Today I used 2 oz of Chocolate, (two of the 1 oz squares shown above)...

3 tsp of RAW ORGANIC Agave Nectar (35 on the glycemic index)...

And 2 tsp of Organic NON-HYDROGENATED Palm Shortening.

 These three ingredients make something very delicious...

Start by melting the chocolate in a double boiler, or (if you are like me) two small pots in place of a double boiler. (To do this, fill the larger of the two pots with about an inch or two of water. Put it on Low/Medium heat, and then place the smaller of the two pots in the larger pot, making sure not to get any water in the smaller pot as this will ruin all your hard work! Bring the water to a boil and let simmer). Add your chocolate to the smaller pot and stir constantly.

Melt the chocolate thoroughly, and then add the shortening and the agave nectar. Continue to stir constantly. The chocolate will turn in to a truffle-like/batter texture. It will pull away from the sides of the pot.

(I know it looks a little... unappetizing, but trust me, it will be awesome!)

When it does this, you can transfer it to a piece of wax paper large enough to fold it in half, and then squish it either with your fingers or a rolling pin. Try to get it no thinner than 1/4 of an inch.

Now you can transfer it to the freezer and store it for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Pull it out of the freezer and break in to small pieces/chunks.

After this step, I just put all the pieces in to a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.

Now you can take the pieces out as needed. I like to use chunks instead of chips in cookie recipes. Maybe that will be the next thing I bake.

So, here is the ingredient list:

For every 2 oz of UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE, you need:

3 tsp of RAW ORGANIC Agave Nectar
2 tsp Palm Shortening

I hope you have as much fun making this as I did, and as much fun eating it as my son and I did!


Monday, January 24, 2011

I want to make a clarification...

This blog is:

100% Gluten Free
100% Dairy Free
100% Soy Free
100% Refined Sugar Free

It is sometimes:
Egg Free
Corn Free
Peanut Free
...But not always...

For baked goods, such as Brownies and Cupcakes, you CAN use 1/4 Cup Applesauce to replace each EGG. Or, you can use 1 TBSP Flax seed meal + 3 TBSP WARM water for each egg. I think for cookies, flax can sometimes give a nice texture and flavor. I also have heard, but never used, ENER G Egg Replacers are good also to substitute eggs in baked goods.

As for Corn Free things, I would stay away from MASA and corn flours (obviously, right?) and Corn Starch, and use the Corn Free Baking Powder Recipe in place of regular Baking Powder which often uses Corn Starch. I would recommend checking labels thoroughly if you are allergic to Corn.

Peanuts, well, I only use them occasionally, and I will always notate in the posts if the recipe contains peanuts. Usually any recipe I do with peanuts, they will be optional anyway.

I am gluten free because I have all the symptoms of Celiac, though I have never been diagnosed. My son got sick right before his 2nd birthday, and going gluten and dairy free his symptoms went away almost immediately. I was diagnosed around the same time with fibromyalgia, (at 28 years old) and decided to go gluten free to make it easier for my son to adjust. After going gluten free for 2 months, my fibromyalgia was completely gone, and it hasn't returned.

I am dairy free because I've dealt with lactose intolerance my whole life, and I just don't like dealing with the way my body feels after I eat dairy. It also makes it easier for my son when mommy has the same restrictions as him.

I am Soy free by choice. Soy contains phyto-estrogens which, in sensitive people, (such as myself) can affect hormone regulation. I also just think that most products containing soy have been so processed to taste a certain way, that it has strayed away from "nutrition" and veered instead toward "food product." I try to eat as much whole food as possible, and so I have cut Soy out of my diet completely.

I am Refined Sugar free because I have family history on both parents sides of Diabetes. I also have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome which is often caused to Insulin Resistance problems. I was tested for this, and I do have Insulin Resistance. Because of this, I try to eat low glycemic foods, and that means that refined sugars are a big no-no. I am battling infertility issues, and so I am eliminating foods that I feel could be a problem or a hindrance to this battle. So, I am refined sugar free, and I really am having a much easier time with this decision than I thought I would.

I want this blog to be about finding balance and figuring out ways to enjoy allergy free diets without feeling deprived.

I hope it helps.

Much love,

Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

Have you had the chance to check out Silvana Nardone's cook book, Cooking for Isaiah? It is SO good! I still have to adapt the recipes to my sugar free lifestyle, but it is definitely worth purchasing! It is filled with Gluten free and Dairy free recipes that look amazing.

I decided to try her gluten free flour blend, to substitute in regular recipes for the All purpose gluten-filled flours.

I am so excited by the outcome. As you can see from the pictures, the texture is very much the same as regular flour, and the smell, is pretty close too. I can't wait to try it!

6 Cups White rice flour (super fine rice flour)
3 Cups Tapioca flour/starch (She recommends Shiloh Farms flour for this for it's mild taste)
1 1/2 Cups Potato STARCH (it is not the same as Potato FLOUR)
1 Tbsp Mineral rich Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Xanthan Gum (Or Guar Gum for the vegans out there)

Whisk together very well, and pour in to the container of your choice for storage.

**This recipe is Silvana Nardone's, and not mine. I take no credit for it. I highly recommend buying her book. It is completely worth the money!


Hot Cocoa A Go Go

After making the cashew milk earlier today, I decided to try making a dairy and sugar free hot cocoa for my 3 year old. I played around with it until it tasted right to me. (I like dark, bitter chocolate, so keep in mind my recipe is for a more dark chocolate, less sweet cocoa).

What I used:

1 Cup Cashew milk
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla
10 drops Capella's Flavor Drops (Hazelnut)

This is enough to make one cup of hot cocoa.

You can blend this in a Vitamix for 2 minutes and it will warm up nicely, however today I used the stove top. Just add the ingredients over a low/med heat and stir until it is as warm as you like it. Pour it in to a mug and enjoy. It creates a creamy, rich, flavor. I love it.

For a sweeter cocoa, you can add more agave nectar until you have the taste you like. As I said, I like mine to taste more like dark chocolate.


Cashew Milk

Today I made Cashew milk for the first time. It was easy, and it is delicious. The best part of it all is that it is dairy free.

**I blanched the cashews overnight. All that that means is I soaked them in water. I used RAW cashew pieces. You can use whole cashews, but I prefer to pay less for the same outcome. I put the cashews in a tupperware container, and filled it with enough water to completely cover the cashews. Then I covered the dish and put it in the refrigerator.

This morning, I took them out, strained them, and measured 1 cup, and put them in to my Vitamix. Then I added about 3 1/2 cups of water, 2 Tbsp of Agave Nectar, and about a Tablespoon of Pure Vanilla. (I get mine at Costco for about $6.95, and it's GLUTEN FREE). I mix it on the highest speed for about 2 minutes, and then pour it in to the containers that I have chosen. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

You can substitute dairy with Cashew milk for any recipe that calls for cow's milk. It's awesome, and it has a really mild taste.

**Blanching nuts is important, because nuts are coated with enzyme inhibitors, which don't allow your body to break them down as well. If you want to get the most nutrition from your cashews, I suggest not skipping this step. Plus, it softens the cashews so much that you don't have to strain the milk after you blend it. Just pour and enjoy.

Corn Free Baking Powder

For those with allergies to corn, here is a recipe for Corn free Baking Powder...

2 parts ARROWROOT STARCH (or Tapioca Starch, or Potato Starch)

Hope that helps!