Sunday, January 31, 2010


Even when you've been gluten-free for years, every once and a while that craving for a wheat-y, gluten-y something comes along. I had mine this morning.

I wanted toast. I wanted toast NOW, and I wanted a big pat of Earth Balance non-dairy butter on it, too.

And yet, I didn't want go through the process of making bread [takes forever], and buying GF bread from the store entails a large sum of money, a large amount of packaging, and it often has sugar, oil, eggs, or dairy! Besides, even if I did want to get a GF vegan loaf of bread safely packaged in plastic [I don't trust the bakery; why would you put the GF and wheat bread side by side in the case?], the nearest health food store is 30 minutes away, and I can't drive.

So, I had to settle for something else, it might not perfectly fit the bill, but it was crunchy, I could have my earth balance, and also dress it up for a sorta-cinnamon-toast. This isn't a recipe, but instead my way of quickly dealing with the crunchy-chewy toast craving I get every once in a while. Here goes:

To start, take a brown rice or corn tortilla [I used brown rice- I'm going on a no-corn trial run, we think I may be allergic to that, too. Will the tirade of necessary deprivations ever stop?]. Anyway, broil the tortilla until crispy. Smear lots of Earth Balance non-dairy butter on top, which will melt [yum!], drizzle on some brown rice syrup, or other sweetener, and top it off with a large sprinkling of ground cinnamon. Add some raisins and/or nuts/seeds to your "toast", if desired. Eat hot and relish the crunch of the tortilla, the buttery goodness of the Earth Balance, the sweetness of the brown rice syrup, and the heat of the cinnamon.

May all your gluten-free endeavors end well,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Graham Cracker and Nanaimo Bar: Daring Bakers January '10

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

I happily took up the challenge- I have been long trying to make satisfactory graham crackers, and had never heard of Nanaimo (pronounced Nah-nye-Moh) bars! To make it vegan, I would have used Earth Ballance non-dairy butter- but I decided to pass up on the the ten sticks of the stuff (how expensive could that get?) and experimented with a more healthy low-fat version.

My little sister thought the middle layer was a homemade (vegan) ice-cream, and was shocked when I told her it was beans! Didn't stop her eating them though....

A traditional Nanaimo bar is comprised of three layers: the first is a chocolate, coconut, almond, graham cracker crumb base (made gluten-free). The middle layer is a butter-custard mixture, and then topped of with a chocolate spread (mixed with more butter).

Well, my bar went a like this....

Graham crackers: I decided to, once again, try to design my own gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, oil-free graham cracker recipe. I tried. MANY TIMES. I finally just used the soy grits leftover from homemade tofu making- mix it up with some GF flour, agave, etc., press it into the pans, preliminary bake, cut into squares, and dry out in a low-temperature oven. Sadly, the dough cracked and would not cut- and ended up breaking off the pan in small chunks and crumbs. Oh well, they had to be pulverized anyway.

Nanaimo bar:

First layer: Using sesame seeds instead of almonds, and a combination of carob and cocoa powder changed up the flavor a bit. Cooked garbanzo beans were my bet on replacing butter and.... it worked! With consistency, anyway. The bottom layer was my favorite part- though I wished I had left out the carob. Brown rice syrup lent a hand in binding the mixture and sweetening.

Middle layer (garbanzo "custard"): Garbanzo beans replaced the butter in this layer- even though I added a bit of Earth Balance for flavor. Garbanzo beans gave the same color, stiff texture, and a mostly neutral flavor- a perfect booster for the sweetness of brown rice syrup, and some other ingredients to mimic a custard flavor. It had a slightly mealy texture that I'm convinced the dried dates did.

Chocolate topping: A mixture of unsweetened bakers chocolate and date syrup made a suitable chocolate ganache to smear atop to bar.

A freezing session in the freezer (the garbanzo "custard" wouldn't harden otherwise) made a nice slicing subject, and gave the garbanzo "custard" a great texture, aside from the slight mealiness. I did like the bottom layer- and I have lots of graham cracker crumbs leftover for other baking ventures!

I certainly want to perfect my approach to this particular confection- I believe that this first try has great possibilities.

Thanks Lauren, for the great challenge!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Wondrous Oat


Ever since turning gluten-free, I haven't laid my lips on a single oat- due to the fact that most are contaminated with gluten during processing. It's was just one of those things, part of the spiel you gave the wheat-eating onlookers: "I can't eat wheat, oats, barley, or rye" [or spelt, triticale, etc]

Until now.

Oh, the wondrous oat- so delicious! I can't ever emember being a fan of them before going gluten-free. But of course, being deprived of something makes you want it even more, so when my mom showed me the Bob's Red Mill bag of certified gluten-free rolled oats, I started going on an oat frenzy. Here is what I'm done so far:

1. Eaten the oats plain
2. Oatmeal raisin cookies
3. Oatmeal
4. More oatmeal [man, that stuff is GOOD!]
5. Muesli
6. Granola- the recipe for today!

With my granola, there's no hassle of using the oven! Instead, you do everything on stove top and have your granola within 15 minutes. It's modeled so that you can use any nuts or seeds you please; I used a mixture of peanuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds, and raisins for the dried fruit.

Unfortunately, there is no picture because the laptop I use to upload photos is on a three day trip- but I'll post it on Flickr and this post very soon. *UPDATE: It's here now*

Quick n' Easy Pan Granola
Gluten-free, vegan, corn-free, sugar-free

3/4 c. your choice mixed nuts and seeds
1 c. certified gluten-free rolled oats [I use Bob's Red Mill]
1/4 c. your choice dried fruit, chopped as needed
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat a large skillet over low-medium heat. Dry [Without using any oil] toast the nuts and seeds, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and the seeds are popping out of their skins, as is the case with pumpkin seeds. Add the oats and continued toasting- stirring frequently- for another couple minutes.

Incorporate the dried fruit, then add the coconut oil to the pan- it doesn't matter if it's solidified or not, as it will melt anyway- and coat the granola. Allow the coconut oil to penetrate before coating the contents of the pan with the brown rice syrup, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract. Now stir the granola constantly, allowing it to get crispy. Once crispy, remove the granola from the pan to cool (or not- it's great warm).

Serve warm or cooled with non-dairy milk or as a satisfying snack. Store in an air-tight container.

Makes 2 cups of granola

Printable Recipe

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Mystery

You walk into the kitchen, mouth crying out for something yummy. You spy some round balls on the counter, fresh from the freezer. Why, what are they? You tentatively take a bit, and experience a multitude of sensations...

I am hard put to categorize these, they are no-bake, but not necessarily raw, and they have an candy-like texture when chilled. With bits of pure, rich unsweetened chocolate, the mellowness of brown rice syrup, and the nice addition of sweet dried dates and raisins, it's also hard to categorize the taste of these no-bake balls. But don't let the mystery of these treats hinder you making them- give them a try!

Though the recipe calls for peanut butter, you can substitute your favorite nut butter depending on your taste preference or allergies. Also, I use oven dried leftover grits from straining homemade almond milk (like my Basic Almond Milk)- which is great for baking and replacing bread crumbs.

Delicious Mystery Treats

1/2 c. leftover grits from Basic Almond Milk, dried out in oven
8 pitted dates
1/4 c. raisins
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 tablespoon peanut butter [or other nut butter]
1 tablespoon chopped 100% cacao unsweetened bakers chocolate
pinch salt
pinch ground cinnamon [optional]

Blitz all ingredients in a food processor until a loose ball is formed. Roll into 12 even balls, and chill in the freezer until firm- 20 to 30 minutes.

Makes 12 balls

Printable Recipe

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I made it!

Jeeze! What's my luck- the day I get accepted into the Daring Kitchen community, as a daring baker and cook, turns out to be the DC reveal date? Well, I had to dash to the kitchen and get cooking!

The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

As vegan, and not wanting to harm a pig in my first ever DC challenge, I used tofu for my satay- marinading, baking, and then broiling for a crispy finish.

For the photograph, I laid the tofu satay on a bed of the chunky onion, garlic, and ginger root mix left over from the marinade. I guess I didn't chop the ingredients finely enough, in any case, it's delicious eaten with a spoon!

Unable to obtain the coconut milk necessary for the peanut dipping sauce [hey, can you blame me?] I improvised my own. It's not too bad, but a bit salty.

Well, I'm glad I could get this cooked and posted in time. Let's hope I can be a bit more timely next month!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Million Words.....

Thursday, January 7, 2010


This is a post in the Eco-Series~ posts giving tips and alternatives to the products and acts that can be environmental-harming in your home.

It may seem odd to start with the toilet room- so many environmental disasters happening; climate change, overflowing landfills, toxic waste, just to name a few, and I talk about the bathroom? But of course- little things build up to big things, and to upgrade supplies in your bathroom are a simple and easy place to start for environmental protection- let's hear for the eco-bathroom!

*UPDATE 1/9/10: I promise that no company or person paid me to promote their products on this post- these are my tried and true preferences and techniques*

Your bathroom cabinet......

Razor refills [if you plan ahead that way]
Toothpick [do people still pick their teeth with those. I don't, but just wondering....]

For all of the above, I highly recommend purchasing from Preserve, a company that makes all their products out of consumer #5 plastic and recycled yogurt cups. Even the packaging is recycled materials! Even better, when you need to replace your Preserve product, just send it in to them and it will become a new product. Also, Preserve's methods of production are more efficient than traditional plastic production methods.

Dental floss- Eco-Dent make makes a vegan floss packaged in paper packaging, with the only plastic being the floss itself, a cover for the floss roll, and a sticker holding the box shut. The box may tear, but you can putt the roll into a normal plastic dental floss box. And yes, this one actually is vegan. Eco-dent marketed a "vegan" floss a while back, when in fact one of the ingredients was grown on a cow's milk derivative, and people were disappointed and upset. So, they made this vegan one for you and I!
Shaving cream
- Since shaving cream is generally packaged in plastic and other wasteful packaging, you can use assorted oils to replicate it- do a quick search on the web for many options. However, if you do continue buying shaving cream, be kind to the animals and choose a vegan one without the use of animal testing, such as Alba Botanica.

Lotion- Many lotion packaging is plastic and can't even be reused [why the funny shaped packages? WHY?!], so I make my own. After a disastrous attempt at trying to replicate store-bought lotion, I settled on a simple, cheap, easy method that hasn't failed me yet. Mix one part vegetable glycerin with 2 parts water, and shake vigorously with a dash of your choice essential oil [my favorite scent is rose] and voila! In my experience, for best results rub the lotion into your skin after showering or bathing for soft, hydrated skin. It's works other times, too, but doesn't absorb as quickly and has a funny feeling on the skin- not bad, just weird.

Shampoo- If you know of a way to make shampoo yourself, let me know. My family currently buys bulk concentrated shampoo, where you can use your own bottle from home and you add water. My favorite is Ballard Organics grapefruit scented- organic, so less strain on the environment and eco-system, and not animal tested either. Ballard Organics also makes other products you may be interested in, though I haven't tried any of them.

- I will reveal a secret: I don't use conditioner! Nope, I use something else, that might sound odd- but don't ditch it 'till you try it. Ever since I can remember, my family has used a mixture of vinegar and water to the same effect, making soft, tangle-free hair which has the added advantage of repelling head lice. Mix 1 part vinegar [any kind- we use apple cider vinegar, but you can also use white] with 2 parts water. To use, mix 3-4 tablespoon or so in a large cup of water and pour evenly over your hair. Don't rinse it off- or it will be gone and won't do anything! The best time to de-tangle your hair is when it's still wet.

Soap- Sappo Hill, hands down! My younger sister has very sensitive skin [certain makeup, soap, bees, polyester- she get a rash], so for all those people who can't use certain beauty care products- this may work for you, but try it first, just to be sure! Sappo Hill soaps are vegan, non-animal tested, and made with 100% vegetable oils. Some scents include lavender, aloe vera, jasmine [my families favorite], sandalwood, oatmeal [their most popular, but not good for us gluten-free people], and fragrance-free.

Whew! Tell me, did I miss anything? Anyway, keep watching for more Eco-series posts!

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