Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

My girls and I like these for snacks. They're wholesome-healthy.

1 c. vegetable oil (I use canola)
(for fluffier cookies, you could make half of that amount coconut oil or shortening)
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. white sugar
Substitute for 2 eggs- I use 1 tsp. baking powder + 1 T. liquid and 1 T. vinegar, and then a little more banana than called for.
1 tsp. water
5 very ripe bananas, mashed

1 1/2 c. brown rice flour
1 1/2 c. oat flour(grind rolled or quick oats in blender)
(optional- use 1/4 c. tapioca starch, cornstarch, or potato starch instead of 1/4 c. of the oat flour, to help lighten the product)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. quick oats

12 oz. chocolate chips

Cream oil and sugars. Meanwhile in separate bowl, combine dry ingredients(flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, oats). Set aside. To oil and sugar, add egg substitute and vanilla. Beat. Then add bananas and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix. Then stir in chocolate chips. Spoon onto cookie sheets or make bars- spread in 9X 13. Bake 375 degrees. Check at 12 min.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Homemade Baking Mixes wheat-free and gluten-free

Combinations of a few or several flours/starches tend to work most satisfactorally when baking gluten-free. Yet baking with, say, five different flour products to replace wheat flour can be a bit more time-consuming and space-consuming. It used to be that every time I wanted to bake something, I'd go to the freezer where I keep gluten-free things, and often have to grab half a dozen different bags. Sometimes I would leave them all on the counter to bring them to room temperature before baking, which looks messy and takes up space on the countertop. When it came time to bake, I would need to measure out amounts from each bag. Sometimes it's more simple than that. Sometimes I only use brown rice flour and oat flour, and then a little xanthan gum, and maybe some tapioca starch. But that's about as simple as it goes for my baking. Until I implemented an idea from a book I read- why not measure out my flour mixtures in large amounts, and bag them up into gallon-size freezer bags?

I have a few different flour combinations that I readily use. I'll provide them on this post. It works well to bag up flour mixtures ahead of time in large quantities- then when it comes to bake, you only have one bag to remove from the freezer! You can also go about using baking mixtures in a different way- when you make a particular recipe, measure out dry ingredients for the recipe in one bowl, and then triple or quadruple the amount of flour /starches/ xanthan gum/baking powder called for in the recipe- all dry ingredients(except yeast, if using), and place in a large ziploc bag, label and date with the particular recipe title. This mix then is more than just a gluten-free flour mix; it's a complete mix of all the dry ingredients that belong to a particular recipe. If you prefer, you can measure the amounts of the dry ingredients for the recipe in individual quart-sized bags, so you have just the measurement of one single-batch in each bag.

Please note that the mixtures I provide do not contain xanthan gum. Back to the flour combinations that I recommend, in all of these ratios, I do not include xanthan gum in the mix. I usually add xanthan gum to the recipe when I bake, but want to allow flexibility for whether or not I add it and how much. Xanthan gum helps tremendously in preventing crumbling in gluten-free goods. Here are some common guidelines for using xanthan gum:

● Add ½ teaspoon xanthan or guar gum per cup of flour blend to make cakes, cookies, bars,
muffins and other quick breads.
● Add 1 teaspoon per cup of flour blend to make yeast bread, pizza dough or other baked
items that call for yeast.

Now for the combinations I presently use. I am still experimenting between different combinations, so there are quite a few here. The amounts given are large; you may want to make a smaller proportion of a mixture first, and try it out in a recipe. Depends how much you bake and how much space you have. Gluten-free flours keep longer and retain nutrients better in the fridge or freezer. I can keep two or three large mixes in my freezer at a time. If you're going to be baking gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, it may pay off to have an extra freezer- it's sure been nice for our family. I can bake large batches and have allergy-free food convenient and nutritious. I can have several bags of gluten-free flours in the freezer. I buy fresh produce at really good sale prices and stock my freezer with blanced vegetables(broccoli and cauliflower), with diced/sliced fruit, and with vegetable and fruit purees, which can be used to replace egg or milk in baking, fruit purees to use on top of waffles(peach, pear, plum...) instead of syrup, and to add nutrition to stews(squash, sweet potato, broccoli).

Cheapest nutritious blend for me and yet satisfactory in drop cookies, quick breads, muffins:

50% Brown rice and 50% oat flour, + 2 T. tapioca starch or cornstarch per 2 cups flour.*

This I do not bother to mix ahead of time; I do have oat flour and rice flour ground at home ahead of time, and stored in gallon-size bags or containers in the freezer.

*Note: You can omit the starch if you don't mind a little more dense product than a regular wheat white flour recipe. The starch in theory is meant to lighten the product and hold it together. Without starch, the brown rice and oat product is about the density, I'd say, as a wholesome whole-wheat product, probably not quite as dense, really. Rice flour and oat flour complement each other very well; rice flour by itself tends to yield a dry and gritty product; oat flour alone produces a gummy, heavy product. Together the properties off-set each other for a good product. This mixture is the cheapest I can make because I buy brown rice and oats in bulk and then grind them at home! Talk about cheap compared to buying specialty bags in the store! I just bought brown rice at under .50/lb and oats at .30/lb! For those who need gluten-free oats, you can order them bulk to save money from the small package price. Bob's Mill, last I checked, had 25 lbs for about $2 a pound.

The mix I currently use the most, for muffins, quick breads, and drop cookies:

33% Brown rice flour; 33% oat flour, and 33% bean/starch mixture(1/3 of that is bean, 2/3 is starch)*
ie: 3 cups brown rice flour + 3 cups oat flour + 1 cup GarFava or Garbanzo + 1 cup potato starch + 1 cup cornstarch or tapioca starch
*bean/starch mixture I often go with 1/2 of that bean, 1/2 of that starch-
ie: 1 1/2 c. lentil flour and 1 1/2 c. cornstarch for 3 c. brown rice and 3 c. oat flour

notes: I have tried this mixture for banana bread, waffles, and muffins. It yields an excellent texture and a great balance of flavor. It is more tender and a lighter-weight product than if you were to just use oat and rice flour. I do notice that without xanthan gum, the tender crumb is messy to eat, and there is a bit of starchiness in the product. I use xanthan gum when I have it available(as I presently do with all my flour combinations). I do think with how well rice and oat flour complement each other, you could decrease the amounts of bean flour and starch by half. This would yield not as light of a product; so this could be a matter of preference.
Oat and wheat free/ gluten free:

50% Brown Rice flour ; 25% millet flour; 25% starch combination(lately half of this is cornstarch and half is potato starch; but tapioca starch + potato starch is another very good option)
ie: 4 cups brown rice+ 2 cups millet + 1 cup cornstarch+ 1 cup potato starch(not potato flour)
Notes: have tried drop cookies(zucchini) and muffins- excellent texture for both, and good flavor. I did notice a slight bitter taste which was remedied by putting just a little drizzle of molasses in the recipe. Could also try using brown sugar for half the sugar called for.

4 1/2 c. brown rice flour + 1 1/2 cup bean flour + 1 cup millet flour + 1 cup cornstarch or tapioca starch + 1 cup potato starch
notes: have tried in zucchini bread; great taste and great texture. Crisp, slightly springy crust and moist inside.

50% brown rice flour; 25% bean flour(ie GarFava or Garbanzo); 25% starch combination
notes: This I actually haven't experimented with- but in theory should work well-although I wonder if you may want less bean flour- in books it says up to 25% flour can be bean.

From the Living Without magazine, a couple mixes I've experimented with just a bit:
Find this magazine online at

All-Purpose Flour Blend
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
1/4 cup cornstarch or potato starch

notes: I 've hardly used this mix because 1) nutrition is not nearly as good as what I use and not as wholesome as I prefer 2) this is more expensive for me then some of the other mixes. Where I might use this is for a nice white, yellow, or lemon cake. Something I want to be lightweight and delicate. Of course, use to your preference. This is meant to be interchange for white wheat-flour in any recipe.

Nutrition analysis as provided by Living Without magazine, based on data by the U.S. department of Agriculture and food companies:each cup: 436 calories, 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 99g carbohydrate, 3mg sodium, 2g fiber, 5g protein

High-Fiber Flour Blend

1 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour
1/2 cup teff flour (preferably light)
1/2 cup millet flour or Montina® flour
2⁄3 cup tapioca starch/flour
1⁄3 cup cornstarch or potato starch

Notes: now this has potential for me. I did try it for my zucchini-oat cookies, and was disappointed that the flavor was a little too strong, a little bitter. But then it's recommended to use light teff flour, and mine was regular or dark. I'm interested in experimenting more with this flour combination. I did notice that some molasses in the recipe(ie 1 tsp or less) helped cut the bitter flavor. I think adding cinnamon might help, too. Living Without magazine does note that this mixture is not for delicate-tasting products. It is intended for breads, pancakes, snack bars, drop cookies that use warm spices, raisins, or chocolate.
Nutrition analysis as provided by living without, based on data by the U.S. department of Agriculture and food companies:
Each cup : 426 calories, 2g total fat, 0gsaturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 94gcarbohydrate, 9mg sodium, 6g fiber, 7g protein

High-Protein Flour Blend

1 1/4 cups bean flour (your choice), chickpea flour(garbanzo) or soy flour
1 cup arrowroot starch, cornstarch or potato starch
1 cup tapioca starch/flour
1 cup white or brown rice flour

Notes: I actually haven't experimented with this blend at this point. But I include it it here because of it's good protein content, and because living without states that it works well for products that require elasticity, such as wraps and pie crusts. This combination reminds me of another I have used a bit:
Nutrition analysis as provided by living without, based on data by the U.S. department of Agriculture and food companies:
Each cup : 88 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 128g carbohydrate, 24mg sodium, 6g fiber, 11g protein

Bette Hagman has an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend that compares to Living Without's, but would have a little more nutrition and be cheaper(provided that your rice flour is cheaper than the starch you buy):
2 cups white rice flour + 2/3 cup potato starch + 1/3 cup tapioca starch.
I would use brown rice flour instead of white, to boost nutrition, unless you're making something you want to be as fluffy/lightweight as possible(like yellow or white cake). Brown rice has flavor than white rice, has a slight nutty taste. So for any baked good other than a lightweight cake, i'd prefer the all-purpose mix to use brown rice flour.
For more gluten-free baking mixes, search your local library or online for books by Bette Hagman or Carol Fenster. Bette Hagman has a book "Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread," in which she utilizes sorghum and bean flours, really boosting nutrition from the traditional all-purpose gluten-free mixes. My favorite gluten-free yeast bread recipe so far comes from this book. I think it's called "Four Flour Bean Bread." I haven't made any yeast breads for probably a year or more. Have tried maybe three or four total. But this bean flour bread I'd give a check or check plus.
Carol Fenster is a gluten-free baking expert and also has books for baking without any of the eight major food allergens.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Whole Grain Zucchini-Coconut Cookies

I am so excited about these cookies! I've had a recent quest of making wholesome cookies without oats. These have an excellent texture and are flavorful. I think, "wow!" every time I eat them! They are my favorite gluten-free, oat-free cookie yet! They have a slightly crisp, springy outside, with a moist, tender inside. They freeze well. They do not stick together, and when thawed in the microwave for a few seconds, they still have an excellent texture.

I adapted these from my Mom's recipe for whole-wheat zucchini oat cookies. I love having a variety of whole grain wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free, non-dairy cookies on hand in the freezer- from pumpkin to zucchini to banana... fruit and vegetable purees really help make great cookies without needing wheat or eggs. Having these cookies in the freezer provides quick, nutritious snacks. These cookies are flexible to adaptations- try what I first list, or substitute other items you have on hand. Experiment with various gluten-free flour mixes.

Whole Grain Zucchini-Coconut Cookies

1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup coconut oil*
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup applesauce & 1 tsp. baking powder mixed with 1 1/2 T. oil and 1 1/2 T. water(mix just before adding to recipe) OR other egg substitute for 2 eggs**
1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon(optional- I forgot it in my recent experiments and they were great without it)

1 1/4 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. millet
1/4 c. potato starch
1/4 cup cornstarch or tapioca starch
0R 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 cup coconut, flaked
1/2 c. chocolate chips(I use Enjoy Life brand), and/or raisins

Beat oil and sugar until fluffy. In separate bowl, combine baking soda, cinnamon, oats, and flour. Set aside. Add vanilla and applesauce to oil and sugar. Mix baking powder, oil, and water in small container, then add to applesauce, sugar, and oil. Mix together. Add zucchini and coconut. Blend. Add dry ingredients from bowl and mix until well blended. Add chocolate chips or raisins last.
Bake 375. Check at 10 min.

*coconut oil is optional- I use it because it adds a delicious dimension to the cookies, and because I think it probably improves texture versus using only vegetable oil- it is more the consistency of margarine than most oil. You could alternately use 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup shortening, or 1/2 cup non-dairy margarine sticks or spread.

*other suggested egg substitutes: 1 T. flaxseed meal + water to equal 1/3 cup; mix with fork and allow to sit and "gel" for 10 min. before adding to recipe; this is a good binder to use alternatively to applesauce. Also add 1 tsp. baking powder mixed with 1 1/2 T. oil and 1 1/2 T. water(mix just before adding to recipe) This provides substitute for two eggs, applesauce is to bind and leavening is to lighten. Another suggested egg substitute: Ener-G Egg Replacer.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Whole Grain Zucchini-Oat Cookies

I adapted these from my Mom's recipe for whole-wheat zucchini oat cookies. I love having a variety of wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free, non-dairy cookies on hand in the freezer- from pumpkin to zucchini to banana... fruit and vegetable purees really help make great cookies without needing wheat or eggs. These are flavorful, moist, and nutritious enough for snacks.
These cookies are flexible to adaptations- try what I first list, or substitute other items you have on hand. What I list first is what I have made and know that I like. For example, for the margarine substitution, I do like the cookies best with some coconut oil substituted for margarine, but there are several other good alternatives.

Whole Grain Zucchini-Oat Cookies

1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup coconut oil*
3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup applesauce & 1 tsp. baking powder mixed with 1 1/2 T. oil and 1 1/2 T. water(mix just before adding to recipe) OR other egg substitute for 2 eggs**
1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon(optional- I forgot it in my recent experiments and they were great without it)
1 1/4 cup quick oats(use 1 c. gluten-free flour blend if not using oats)
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup oat flour(grind rolled oats in blender)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 cup coconut, flaked
1/2 c. chocolate chips(I use Enjoy Life brand), and/or raisins

Beat oil and sugar until fluffy. In separate bowl, combine baking soda, cinnamon, oats, and flour. Set aside. Add vanilla and applesauce to oil and sugar. Mix baking powder, oil, and water in small container, then add to applesauce, sugar, and oil. Mix together. Add zucchini and coconut. Blend. Add dry ingredients from bowl and mix until well blended. Add chocolate chips or raisins last.

*coconut oil is optional- I use it because it adds a delicious dimension to the cookies, and because I think it probably improves texture- it is more solid than most oil, so could allow for more fluffiness. You could alternately use 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup shortening, or 1/2 cup non-dairy margarine sticks or spread.

*other suggested egg substitutes: 1 T. flaxseed meal + water to equal 1/3 cup; mix with fork and allow to sit and "gel" for 10 min. before adding to recipe; this is a good binder to use alternatively to applesauce. Also add 1 tsp. baking powder mixed with 1 1/2 T. oil and 1 1/2 T. water(mix just before adding to recipe) This provides substitute for two eggs, applesauce is to bind and leavening is to lighten. Another suggested egg substitute: Ener-G Egg Replacer.

Whole Grain Coconut-Zucchini Cookies, discussion

Last summer I adapted my mother's whole wheat zucchini-oat cookies recipe to be wheat, dairy, egg, and nut free, and my kids and I really enjoyed the result. These were a favorite while we had zucchini. However, I didn't get the recipe posted on this blog, and I lost my notes. So this summer, when I had zucchini once again, I experimented again with the recipe. This time, I tried four different adaptations- two options were made without oats. #1 made with rolled oats as called for in recipe, and oat and brown rice flour to substitute for the wheat. #2 Same as above, except 2 T. tapioca starch added in place of 2 T. of the oat flour. #3 wheat flour and rolled oats substituted with Living Without Magazine's High Fiber Blend gluten-free flour blend(with teff flour, millet flour, brown rice flour, and some starch) #4 wheat flour and rolled oats substituted with 50% brown rice flour, 25% millet flour, and 25% starch(half of that was potato starch and half was cornstarch).

I love both the oatmeal versions and the brown rice millet version! I am amazed at how good these cookies are for having no wheat, dairy, eggs, or nuts! #3 disappointed me, but my husband enjoyed them. I think they're okay, but a bit bitter. My girls love the zucchini-oat cookies. Experiment #1 and #2 seemed the same, except for the tapioca ones having a slight off taste(the tapioca starch I get from Bob's Mill, for some reason, tastes off to me each time, is it just me?) Experiment #3 is okay, but both the tapioca and teff are strong. Living Without does recommend light teff flour, and I used regular or dark. Experiment #4 is very invigorating to see the results, it's a great cookie with perfect texture, without oats, and wholesome! I know that some have issues with oats, so I am very happy to have a cookie that tastes great, is wholesome, and is wheat and oat-free! Choose a recipe and try it out!

If you can have oats, I do recommend #1- with the wheat flour being substituted by brown rice flour and oat flour. This is my personal favorite, and is also the cheapest option. Well, I know it is, anyway, by FAR, if you have a grain grinder and grind your own brown rice, and blend your own oats to make oat flour. (If you need gluten-free certified oats, perhaps this option isn't the cheapest?) If you are avoiding oats, I think the millet version ranks just barely behind the oat version overall...I think the oat version tastes more delightful("fabulous!" came to mind when I sampled the oat ones, and YUM!!! comes to mind with the millet ones), but the millet version boasts an excellent texture one step above the oat version(the oat version is a bit gummy, and the millet version is perfect in texture, I think). I am amazed each time I eat the millet version how good they are! You'll be happy with either recipe! I'll have individual posts for the oat and millet versions. On this post, however, I'm first copying my mom's recipe, so you can understand how the recipe was adapted. Then you can feel free to adapt the recipe for your needs- and share with me if you come up with another great option!

Whole Wheat Zucchini-Oat Cookies, with comments on how I adapted it:

1/2 cup margarine: substitute 1/4 cup (canola)oil and 1/4 cup coconut oil*
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs: 1/3 cup applesauce, and 1 tsp. baking powder mixed with 1 1/2 T. oil and 1 1/2 T. water(mix just before adding to recipe)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon(optional- I forgot it in my recent experiments and they were great without it)
1 1/4 cup quick oats(replace with 1 c. gluten-free flour blend if not using oats)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour: choose a wheat-free or gluten-free blend
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum**
2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 cup coconut, flaked
1/2 c. chocolate chips(I use Enjoy Life brand), and/or raisins

Beat margarine(oil) and sugar until fluffy. In separate bowl, combine baking soda, cinnamon, oats, and flour. Set aside. Add vanilla and applesauce to oil and sugar. Mix baking powder, oil, and water in small container, then add to applesauce, sugar, and oil. Mix together. Add zucchini and coconut. Blend. Add dry ingredients from bowl and mix until well blended. Add chocolate chips or raisins last.

*coconut oil is optional. I like it because it adds a delicious dimension to the cookies, and because I think it probably improves texture- when it is solid room temperature it probably helps make fluffier cookier than oil. You could alternately use just vegetable oil(like canola), shortening, or non-dairy margarine sticks or spread.

**1/2 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour is a common rule of thumb. I used 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum in the recipes that used oats and oat flour(because oats already have binding properties). I used 1 tsp. xanthan for the recipes that didn't have oats(the millet version and the high-fiber blend version). This is because I used 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour in these recipes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Millet, another great gluten free option!

I recently have tried a new grain that's gluten-free, and I like it! So does my three-year old, hooray!

I realize, once again, that if we look to various cultures, we can find lots of good, healthy alternatives to wheat. Millet has been cultivated in Asia for the last 10,000 years, I read in Wikipedia. It's nutritious, with its protein composition as good as whole wheat and rich in B vitamins(Wikipedia). For those who cannot have gluten, this is another nutritious whole grain that adds fiber to the diet! It can be cooked whole and served as a hot cereal(add sugar/honey), or can be served savoury(with meat and vegetable stews). Or it can be ground into flour and used for flat breads(as the only flour even), or used in baking, with up to 25% of the flour blend being millet(Living Without Magazine). In "Great Grains, an insider's guide to choosing and using gluten-free flours," (Living Without Magazine, Dec/Jan 2009), millet flour is described as having a "mildly sweet, nut-like flavor."

I had somehow thought that millet would be pretty much like cornmeal in flavor and in nutrition. Not so. Comparing it to other hot breakfast cereals, it's more flavorful than grits, and more nutritious. It's more delicate than cornmeal. It cooks up kind of fluffy. I like it better than quinoa for a breakfast cereal, not as strong of a flavor(though I eat quinoa alternately, too- it's good with sliced fresh plums or grapefruit).

In India they use millet flour(bajari) alone or with sorghum flour(jowar) to make flat bread(bhakri). I searched online and found a well-done tutorial on how to make bajari bhakri- and I was excited that these tortillas were very easy to pat out, and remained flexible when cooked! I learned a tip here that will aid in making any gluten-free tortillas, whether they are rice or millet or sorghum... another break through for me! I will publish a separate post for flatbread. Or go directly to the website with the tutorial:

Since I sampled millet a couple weeks ago, I have made it in three ways. First, I cooked it as a breakfast cereal. For this, rinse the grain and boil with a 3 1/2: 1 ratio of water to grain. (For 1 cup grain, use 3 1/2 cups water). I've read that before boiling millet, you first you toast the grain until there's a nice aroma. I haven't done this yet. Boil for at least 20 minutes; it may need 35. I haven't mastered how long it boils on my stove for perfect texture. If it's boiled too long, it does get a bit mushy, kind of like rice does when overcooked. When cooked and cool enough to eat, we serve it with non-dairy buttery spread and honey. Yum!

Second way I've tried using millet: flatbread, or tortillas. As I mentioned earlier, I found a website that has a very helpful tutorial. You'll be able to make gluten-free tortillas without messing with crumbly, hard to roll-out dough! There was a draw-back for these tortillas, they did have a slightly bitter taste, I thought. It was just fine for eating with honey and non-dairy spread, and would be great for a savoury wrap or fajita. However, my girls didn't eat them, and I don't know if they didn't like the taste or if it's just that tortillas are a food that they haven't had much of- they haven't eaten any tortillas very well at all- homemade oat ones that I liked, or purchase brown rice ones). I did read on one of the blogs I checked that millet flour doesn't have the bitter taste that sorghum does. I remember reading that when baking with sorghum, you can add some molasses to help cut out the bitter flavor.

Back to millet- the third way I've used it now is in cookies. And oh....they are the best gluten-free cookies I've had!!! Actually, they are some of the best cookies I've had, period...ranked among and above other wheat cookies. For the cookies, I adapted my mom's "Whole Wheat Zucchini-Oat Cookies." Instead of wheat flour and rolled oats, I used 50% brown rice flour, 25% millet flour, and 25% starch(half of that was potato starch and half was cornstarch). I added a couple drops of molasses to cut out the hint of bitterness that I tasted(I suspect that millet has saponins like quinoa does, I'll have to look this up). I made a big batch of these cookies and have them in the freezer. Every time I take them out and thaw a couple to eat, I am still amazed at how good these gluten-free cookies are! I'll post the cookie recipe hopefully this week.

I'm so happy to have another gluten-free grain to cook with that has good nutrition. I am very content with using oats/brown rice/tapioca starch for baking, but recently have been on a trial diet excluding oats. What a relief to find millet! For those who don't use oats, this can add so much to the basic gluten-free blends of rice, tapioca and potato starch. Actually, even for those who can have oats, if you have oatmeal frequently for breakfast, millet can be added for variety!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coconut Cream Pudding

This pudding is delicious by itself for a snack, with coconut, strawberries, or blueberries added, or combined with cubed, leftover vanilla cake and strawberries to make a scrumptious trifle(see "Another Successful Birthday Cake" for gluten-free, egg-free, dairy free recipe)

1 -14 oz can minus 1/4 cup coconut milk; @ 1 3/4 cups)
The 1/4 cup remaining can be refrigerated and used for smoothies, white sauce, etc.
1/4 cup cream of coconut(opt)
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons cornstarch + enough water to form a medium- thick paste.
(opt) drop molasses to add dimension

In small container(2 cup or so), combine cornstarch and enough water to form a paste. In saucepan over medium-high heat, heat coconut milk, cream of coconut, and water, stirring. When hot(before simmering), pour most of the liquid into the cornstarch mixture, stirring. Return to saucepan over medium-low heat, letting bubble and thicken 1-2 minutes. Cool in fridge, it will thicken more. Or enjoy warm.

For chocolate pudding, add 1/2 - 3/4 T. mini chocolate chips per 1 cup hot pudding. Stir until melted. Or, if pudding is cool, heat chocolate chips in microwave(try 30 seconds) until beginning to soften, then stir in. I use Enjoy Life Chocolate chips which are free of dairy.

(opt)You can omit the cream of coconut and add some sugar to taste instead. If you want a creamier pudding, you can add a little coconut cream(I keep small cubes of this on hand in the freezer- I'd add maybe 1-2 ice tray cubes). Note: coconut cream is not at all the same thing as cream of coconut.

For a thicker pudding, use more cornstarch. Try 4 T.

Strawberry Rhubarb Non-Dairy Shake

This creamy dessert is delicious and has a beautiful pink color. My husband who generally doesn't like rhubarb, loves this treat! It's healthy, too. The coconut milk makes it taste like it's a shake made with dairy ice cream- it's rich and flavorful. I don't follow any one recipe when I make this. I just got the idea of a rhubarb shake from a rhubarb sorbet recipe I saw(Alice Sherwood's "Allergy Cookbook.") Generally, I combine chopped, cooked and sweetened rhubarb(frozen), strawberries, coconut milk, and ice and/or water. Peaches are also good. I have used strawberry-rhubarb sauce from my freezer that I made with cinnamon and lemon juice. This is delicious to use with the coconut milk and ice. Here's a basic recipe I put together with estimations:

1 can coconut milk
2 cups cooked, sweetened to taste, and frozen rhubarb(meaning 2 cups after it is cooked down)
-while cooking, you can add 1-2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and sugar to taste
1 pint strawberries, frozen
1 qt. home bottled peaches, or frozen peaches, opt.
ice and water to desired thickness and taste

Experiment with different amounts and components. Each time I have made this, I've had people wowed and very satisfied. In the rhubarb sorbet recipe I saw from Alice Sherwood's book(Allergy-Free Cookbook), she said that people who don't like rhubarb love her sorbet! Same goes with this "shake."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coconut Cream Popsicles

I have posted coconut ice cream recipes previously. Here is a variation that's really good: freeze coconut "ice cream" into popsicles! Make the ice cream according to the previous post, dish it into popsicle molds, and freeze. I don't have popsicle molds right now, so I used little plastic cups, partially froze the mixture, then pulled out the cups and placed plastic toddler spoons inside, filled the cracks carefully with a slight amount of water, and refroze the dessert.

You can make these extra-special by swirling in a fruit puree- it makes beautiful, delicious popsicles! I pureed some plums and sweetened the puree with sugar. I also added 1 T. orange juice concentrate to the batch of puree that I made(about 1 quart yield). It made a beautiful deep reddish-purple sauce. The extra sauce can be frozen in freezer bags or containers for future use(for small amounts, you can use baby food jars). I poured the coconut "ice cream" mixture into plastic cups, then swirled in the plum puree. These are delightful and refreshing! I don't care to buy another popsicle from the store again! : )

Coconut "Ice Cream"

My girls are loving their first experience with ice cream. Last summer I made fruit sorbets for my daughter. She loved "pink sorbet," made from strawberries. This summer I have experimented with "coconut ice cream." I think it's technically a sorbet. But I call it ice cream because it is so much like the vanilla ice cream I know.

Here are a few variations. The girls love it with Enjoy Life chocolate chips(non-dairy) and cookie crumbs(gluten-free sugar cookies) or fruit crisp crumbles(oats, oat flour, brown sugar and oil) that are stored in the freezer. Blueberries are another favorite with this dish.

Variation #1:

1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut cream
2 trays ice cubes
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Blend in VitaMix. Or if using blender, add ice cubes one at a time. I haven't tried this in a regular blender. If it's too thick for your blender, you can omit ice(and add some water in its place unless you want really creamy ice cream) and then place in freezer 3-4 hours until edges firm; break up crystals with fork, refreeze again until firm. If you're freezing a liquid instead of using a high-powered blender and ice, you can dissolve the sugar and liquid together in a saucepan before freezing. I've seen recipes with instructions to dissolve sugar, and figure it helps with smoothness.

This has a delicious balance of flavor. It is a bit runny, though, with the method I've tried in the VitaMix. I might try 2 1/2 ice cube trays(though that might dilute it too much). Or I might try the method leaving out ice and simply freezing, stirring, freezing. As is, we dish it up immediately as soft-serve, store the remaining in the freezer, and the remaining is thick enough for latter use. (It does require some thaw time before enjoying again- in refrigerator or very low power in microwave). Or, we spoon it into popsicle molds(or use plastic cups and anything you can find for handles- plastic spoons, popsicle sticks if you have them). Either way my kids love this stuff!

Variation #2:

This is for those who desire more of a coconut ice milk treat- less sweet. Follow directions above, but omit coconut cream.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lemony marshmallow topping or filling

My sister developed this recipe to make a cake filling for a lemon wedding cake. She then used it as a topping(instead of frosting) for a gluten-free cake she made for my daughters and I to try. It's delicious! And a very nice change from buttercream frosting.

First, have cake baked and cool.

Prepare lemon sauce:

Heat 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp. salt in saucepan on stove, just before simmering. In separate bowl, add just enough water to 1 Tablespoon cornstarch to form a paste. Pour heated water/lemon mixture into cornstarch paste, stirring. Transfer back to saucepan, stirring on medium heat, about 1 minute, until mixture is transparent. Cool while making marshmallow topping.

Prepare marshmallow mixture:

Combine 1 c sugar, 1 Tablespoon gelatin(unflavored), and 1/2 c. water in saucepan. Heat and stir just until sugar is dissolved. Stire in 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Cool about 5 min. Transfer to electronic mixer-beat high speed 10 minutes.

When marshmallow mixture is ready(when mixture falls from beaters it keeps a soft shape on the mixture below), gently fold in the lemon sauce. If using lemony-marshmallow as filling, pipe buttercream frosting(can be non-dairy) around edges of single layer cake. Fill in with marshmallow mixture. Then stack next layer of cake on top. If using as a topping, see if the mixture is set up enough to stay on cake.

You may want to wait awhile for mixture to set up before "frosting" the cake. If you wait too long, it will become too thick, however. For me, I waited probably an hour, and mixture was set up enough that there were chunks in the "frosting" when I spread it on the cake. These lumps did come out, though, with enough spreading. Some of the mixture slumped at the bottom, but I scraped it off and smoothed it over. This is still an experimental recipe, but turned out looking really good on the cake, and was refreshing and delicious!

Another successful birthday cake!

For the three years that my family has needed allergy-friendly birthday cakes, we have tried a few different things. The first birthday cake I made without wheat, dairy, eggs, or nuts was grainy and dry. My daughter's second birthday cake was made of rice crispies and marshmallows. Since then, we have had kabocha squash cupcakes with cooked coconut frosting(those were delicious!), offered homemade cupcakes or something yummy for the children to have while my husband had a mini birthday cake baked from a mix in the microwave, and even had a cookie for a birthday cake(my daughter requested a sugar cookie rather than a cake).

For my husband's recent birthday, we had our first "traditional" birthday cake(as in white, yellow, or chocolate, full size) to be shared with the whole family, since my attempt 3 years ago for my daughter's first birthday. It was a vanilla cake from the magazine "Living Without," which has select recipes online. It's a good cake! Funny, the kids we made it for didn't really go for it, they were most interested in the frosting(homemade marshmallow with lemon sauce whipped in) and in the ice cream made just for them! I'll post the non-dairy ice cream recipe.

The cake was very sturdy(not crumbly, held together well), had a great texture(not grainy and not starchy/powdery!), and no off-flavor. It was a lot like a vanilla pound cake. It was more dense than the traditional white cake, like a pound cake would be. Probably because I didn't use eggs. That's okay, I'd much rather have a slightly dense cake than a grainy or starchy or off-taste cake. The flavor was basic. But plenty good with a raspberry sauce I served. The cake together consisted of the vanilla cake recipe linked below, with raspberry sauce and lemon marshmallow frosting.

Here's a link to the recipe for the cake. The recipe includes eggs, but has a substitution for eggs written below the recipe.
There are variations I'd like to try: coconut cake and lemon cake.

For the frosting, follow the "buttercream" frosting recipe with the cake(use non-dairy margarine), or try the lemon-marshmallow topping I served. Our family is delighted with this new topping. My sister created this as a filling for a wedding cake she recently made, and found that it works well for a frosting. This delicious lemony-marshallow topping is created by mixing a batch of basic marshmallows(easy to make) with lemon sauce. See my post "Lemony-Marshmallow Topping."

For the filling, puree some fruit(we used raspberries with some strawberries), sweeten if desired, and thicken. I use Instant Clear-Jel(which is modified food starch). I have to admit that I haven't verified for certain that this isn't derived from barley or wheat. My understanding, when I researched it, is that it's derived from corn. But I am not confident in this enough to warrant it for your use if you cannot have gluten. Check on this. If you cannot have instant clear-jel, you can use cornstarch to thicken. Or arrowroot if you cannot have corn, etc...

This was a great birthday cake! To decorate it, I simply used strawberries and blueberries, placed in a flower design on top of the marshmallow topping. My sister previously made a cake with this marshmallow topping and simply placed pansies from her garden on top. It was beautifully simple. She used pureed stawberries for her filling. The cake was gluten-free lemon, which had a delicious flavor. There are lots of possibilities for delicious, enjoyable, and allergy-friendly birthday cakes!

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to Replace Wheat Flour in Baking

There are all kinds of possibilities for replacing wheat flour in baking. There are several types of nutritious grains, seed flours, flour made of coconut, sweet potato, even grapes...endless options that are healthy!

If you are starting out learning how to replace wheat flour, here is what I recommend:

As a rule of thumb, no single flour will adequately replace wheat flour. Combinations of flours work well together.

If you can have oats, use them! Regular or quick oats can easily be ground into flour in your blender. This flour is economical, very nutritious, and has a mildly sweet flavor and gummy texture that complements rice flour very well. Rice flour by itself is grainy and bland, and also dry. Oat flour by itself produces heavy, dense, and gummy products, in general. Together, these flours have traits that work together very well.

When I adapt a recipe using wheat flour, I almost always bake with either a nearly half and half ratio of brown rice flour and oat flour, or a combination of brown rice flour, oat flour, and bean flour(usually lentils ground in my blender). With these flours, I do add tapioca starch and xanthan gum as part of the measured amount of flour. Since tapioca starch and xanthan gum have sticky properties, and oats have gummy properties, I include the measure of tapioca starch and xanthan gum in my measure of oat flour, so that the full cup of rice flour can offset with its grainy properties. 1 Tablespoon tapioca starch/flour per cup of gluten-free flour is a widely used rule of thumb. A common rule of thumb for xanthan gum is 1/2 tsp per cup of gluten-free flour for cakes, cookies, and muffins, and quick breads, and 1 tsp per cup flour for yeast breads. In general, then, if a recipe calls for 2 cups wheat flour, I measure 1 cup of brown rice flour, and then measure 2 T. tapioca starch and 1 tsp. xanthan gum in a 1 cup measure, then fill the rest the way with oat flour. Actually, since oats do have some gluten and they do have properties more similar to wheat than non-gluten flours, I do sometimes add just 1 T. tapioca starch and 1/2 tsp xanthan gum to a recipe with 2 cups flour. I'm experimenting with this. UPDATE from Nov 2010: check out my homemade baking mixes post- this simplifies things!

Xanthan gum helps the product to be much less crumbly, have an overall better texture, and have longer shelf/freezer life. Tapioca also improves texture, helps lighten the product, and makes a nice springy crust.

When using bean flour in a recipe, I don't quite use the 1/3 ratio. What I do is add cornstarch, potato starch, or tapioca to the measure of bean flour that I use. So, in a recipe calling for 3 cups wheat flour, I would add 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup oat flour, and then fill up a 1 cup measure with first tapioca starch(maybe 2 T.), then some potato starch or cornstarch(maybe 2 T.), then 1 tsp. xanthan gum, then the rest the way with bean flour. Or, I may use 1 1/2 cup. brown rice flour, 1 cup oat flour with the tapioca/xanthan gum rule of thumbs included in the measure, and then 1/2 cup bean flour.

I find that when I experiment with different ratios of flour in muffins or fruit/vegetable puree cookies(banana, pumpkin, etc), these products are pretty flexible. I end up with different results, but most my experiments are satisfying. I don't mind ending up with a muffin a bit on the dense side, as long as it has a good flavor, texture, and tastes wholesome! When I adapt a recipe, I record the changes I make, make note that I'd like it to be less dense next time, and decide what to tweak in the recipe to try to achieve an even better product. I have a notebook dedicated to recording my adaptations and results. I'm much more laid back about experimenting with food than I used to be, since I've discovered that most any "flop" you may have can be converted into something good. And I'm learning which types of products have more experimenting leeway(like muffins), and which products have less leeway(like yeast bread).

Because I use whole-grain oat flour, brown rice flour, often bean flour, and then just a little bit of starch when I bake wheat-free, the baked products that result are very wholesome and satisfying. These combinations of flour work very well for muffins, waffles, fruit cookies(banana, pumpkin, zucchini, etc), and quick breads(banana, zucchini, etc). Fruit crisp, oatmeal cookies, and oat pie crust work well with oat flour replacing all of the wheat flour in the recipe.

Oat flour, brown or white rice flour, and many assortments of bean flour are available at many stores. If the grocery stores you shop at don't have them, Whole Foods Market carries them. These can all be produced at home, however, at a much better price! Oat flour is easily made from grinding rolled oats(quick or regular) in a blender. Lentils also grind in a blender. Depending on how good your blender is, lentil flour may be a little course in texture, but still okay. A VitaMix machine works great! If you're serious about wholesome nutrition, a VitaMix machine really can pay off in initial cost. Especially for a family with allergies or food sensitivities. I use mine for grinding batches of flax seed(egg substitution), prunes or other fruit/vegetable purees(egg or dairy substitution or use in cooking), sunflower seed butter, lentils, hummus, countless whole fruit smoothies and whole fruit/vegetable juice, etc... I use my VitaMix nearly every day, and often a couple times in a day!

If you get a special container designed for grinding, you can use a VitaMix to grind rice and other grains into flour. You may want to look into buying a grain mill if you don't own one. Initial cost is high, but it could really pay off in nutrition and overall savings. Price ranges are broad, mine was $150, as it was used, but has worked great. I grind large batches of brown rice and oat groats into flour, and then store the flour in gallon-size freezer bags or in various containers in the freezer. Last year I used 50 lb brown rice, between baking and serving cooked, which I believe I paid about . 50/lb for. One year's worth of rice flour, then was only about $25! Brown rice has gone up in price, but still can be a lot cheaper to buy than to purchase already made brown rice flour. Oats are very economical. I can get a 25 lb bag regularly for .39/lb. Even if you find a sale on a 42 oz. container at $2.00(last year they went on sale for $1.00 at Smith's, but that was last year), that is still only about .75/lb.

I have tried a few different gluten-free flour combinations, and also a couple purchased gluten-free flour mixes. The most basic combinations tend to be rice flour and starch such as tapioca and potato starch. By itself, this combination of flour is bland. Also, tapioca and potato starch have 0 grams protein, no fiber, and a lot of carbohydrates. With these mixes, other ingredients in the recipe are important for flavor and nutrition. I have made a yummy chocolate cake from a gluten-free mix, using yogurt instead of milk and flaxseed instead of egg.

There are several things you can do to boost the nutrition value of a gluten-free product, including adding flaxseed meal or baking with fruit or vegetable purees. Most notably, Carol Fenster and Bette Hagman, among other gluten-free experts, have found that bean flour such as garbanzo bean flour, or garfava bean flour or sorghum, really can improve the basic gluten-free mix of rice and starches. These bean flours add a mild flavor, improve texture, and definitely boost nutrition of the flour mix. I am pretty satisfied with a yeast bread recipe that calls for a few kinds of bean flour. It's actually my favorite yeast gluten-free bread that I've baked. It's called Flax Seed Four-Flour Bean Bread, by Bette Hagman. It uses a mix you can make at home: 3 cups Garfava Bean Flour, 1 cup Sorghum Flour, 4 cups Tapioca Flour, 4 cups Cornstarch. I'll post the recipe. UPDATE from Nov 2010: I have a new favorite bread recipe, see my post "Really Good Yeast Bread!"

If you cannot have oats, I recommend looking for flour mix recipes or products that have bean flour in them. Carol Fenster and Bette Hagman have recipe books that you could check out at your local library. They have several basic flour mixes that you can make at home and store in bags, for easy use in recipes. Several gluten-free bloggers post these flour mix recipes as well. In my post, "Flours to replace wheat," I have posted a garbanzo-bean flour mix that I have liked.

I often bake with lentil flour. Actually, I rarely bake with any other kind of bean. This is because I can make my own lentil flour at home in my VitaMix(or blender), for a much better price than purchased bean flours. I hesitate to make bean flour at home other than lentil or split-pea, because other beans are supposed to be soaked before cooking. I hear you can bake with home-ground beans such as pinto, etc., but the flavor is stronger, can be bitter, when compared to purchased bean flours that have been processed. Molasses can help, I hear, if you make and use your own bean flour. I just go with home-ground lentils. They're really nutritious, too!

UPDATE from Nov 2010: I like to bake with white bean flour as well as lentils. I've seen several places where people bake with bean flour other than lentils. The white beans I grind in my grain mill. They can be ground in the VitaMix as well, or even in a cereal grinder that I tried at my Mom's. The white beans haven't been too strong in flavor. I do add a little molasses when I bake with white beans(@1/2 tsp. blackstrap for most baked goods), but if you don't have any, I would try without.

The Living Without magazine has a page called Living Without Pantry Substitution Solutions. It is available online at, and has four different gluten-free flour mixes. It adds direction as to which type to use for which purpose. It has a basic mix, a high-protein mix, high-fiber blend, and a self-rising flour mix.

For exploring baking with alternative flours not mentioned on this post(amaranth, teff, coconut, cabernet, etc), see my post "Flours to Replace Wheat." There are a couple of books I recommend that give the properties and best uses of several different flours, as well as ratio amounts of how much of a particular flour to use in a recipe. has a few different articles that help one to be familiar with a wide array of flours available to replace wheat. Search under "past articles."


If you are not used to whole-grain products but you want the nutrition benefits of them, try baking with a combination of white rice flour and oats to begin with(together with any tapioca/cornstarch you might include). Then, replace half of the white rice flour with brown rice flour. Bake this way for a while. Finally, replace all of the white rice flour with brown rice flour. The brown rice flour is so much more nutritious, and has a nicer, nutty flavor. The only time I would use white rice flour, now, is for delicate, fluffier items such as a white cake. In yeast bread I might use part white rice and part brown rice flour.

In cooking rice for serving at a meal, your family can get used to brown rice. I used to only cook white rice for my family. We enjoyed it. I started cooking half brown and half white together, and we got used to that. Then we only had brown rice, and we got used to that. I ran out recently, and have gone back to cooking white rice, until I buy more brown(I'm searching for the best price out there on a large amount). I do not enjoy white rice anymore! My husband says he wants the brown back, he likes the brown as much as the white now, and he likes the nutrition benefits of the brown so much more. If you do not like brown rice right now, you can definitely gradually get used to it. You may find that you prefer it over the white rice! note- my kids still do seem to prefer white rice : ) but they eat the brown as I serve it : )

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chocolate Easter Bunnies!

Did you know you can make your own Easter Bunnies at home? It’s actually quick and easy. Just invest in a easter bunny chocolate mold, and then it can become a tradition to make easter bunnies every year! The candy mold should last year after year. As I grew up, my family made chocolate bunnies, chicks, and eggs every Easter. We made homemade marshmallows, too, and dipped them in chocolate. Fun, delicious, and special when you make these treats together as a family, or as a parent for a child! I have continued this tradition in my own home, despite my children being allergic to dairy!

To make your own chocolate easter bunny, buy a candy mold, and then buy chocolate chips that are guaranteed gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, and dairy-free. I use Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips from Whole Foods. There are several cute bunny molds at a local candy shop where I live. You want the chocoate candy molds, not the hard candy molds.

To make the chocolates: Melt some chocolate chips in the microwave. (Try about 1 cup chips, depending on how big your mold is, or how many you have). Heat 30 seconds to a minute, then stir, then microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave 30 seconds, stir, until chocolate is thin enough to pour into the mold. Note that if your chocolate is overheated, it may become too thick after it’s been completely melted. In this case, the chocolate can be thinned by using some shortening, try 1 tsp and stir, then add more if needed. If you have a one-sided mold, pour until chocolate is level with top of mold. You can gently tap the mold on the counter top to encourage the chocolate to become completely level. Then place the mold carefuly into the freezer in a level place. For small chocolates, 10-15 minutes may be plenty to solidify the chocolate.

Line a cookie sheet or flat tray with plastic wrap, and then place mold upside down onto the tray. (You can lift the cookie sheet up to meet the mold, or you can use a clean, soft towel instead, if you have a single bunny, placing it on top of the mold and then inverting in your hand). Chocolates should easily fall out if solid, or with a little tapping of the mold, or gently pushing. If they are not easily coming out, try placing the chocolate in the freezer for a few more minutes. If you wish to individually wrap the chocolate(s), cut pieces of plastic wrap large enough to wrap around the chocolate. You can use a piece of plastic wrap in your hand to pick up the chocolates without getting finger prints on the chocolates.

I have not created a chocolate 3-D bunny before, but I asked a lady at a candy store how it is done. You have a two-sided mold. You fill one side of the mold with chocolate. Then snap other side securely on top. Shake enough so that both sides are coated with chocolate. You may first need to coat edges, corners on empty side as they may not easily be coated when mold is together and shaken. Place in the freezer, both sides still securely together. After 3 minutes, remove mold, move it around a bit to recoat uniformly all sides, place back in freezer for 3 minutes, repeat until solid. The lady says this only takes 3 or 4 times of recoating and freezing before it’s solid.

Have fun! This really is easy when you get the hang of it, and it feels very satisfying to make your own. I would guess it is much less expensive that ordering or buying the bunnies, especially if you use the molds from year to year).

If my instructions don’t completely make sense, here is another place to go:

This article steps you through the process and also gives a few ideas at the end. I have put rice crispies in my chocolates before to add a nice crunch. Filling the chocolates with peanut butter isn’t an option for us, but we could use sunbutter! Or we could have a coconut frosting sort of filling made dairy free. Use powdered sugar, non-dairy butter/shortening, and then coconut milk instead of dairy milk, and add flaked coconut.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sugar Cookies from Living Without Magazine

The Living Without magazine December/January 2009 issue has a great recipe for sugar cookies! My toddler enjoyed decorating and eating these cookies so much that she requested them for her birthday instead of a cake! For her birthday party, we let her friends each decorate and eat their own cookie.

You can find the article online at

Or go to, click on Articles, then Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes, then Holiday Cookies, then Melt-in-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookies

The cookies and frosting are gluten-free, dairy-free, and have instructions to adapt cookies to be gluten and dairy-free.

I will paraphrase the directions in places, and have adapted the recipe a bit.

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookies

1½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
1 egg (or 1½ teaspoons egg replacer* mixed with 2 tablespoons rice milk or water)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2½ cups gluten-free cookie flour mix (see below)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

4 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 tablespoons dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
2 egg whites(see below for "Vegan Icing Variation")
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Food coloring and colored sugars, optional

homebaker's note: this recipe has ended up too thin every time I've made it; I've ended up adding more flour. You can do a "test cookie"- just bake one on a tray to see what consistency you have.

Combine 1½ cups confectioner’s sugar and 1 cup shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and slightly fluffy. Add egg replacer mixture and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine flour mix, xanthan gum, baking soda and cream of tartar.
Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating on low speed until thoroughly combined.
Gather up dough into a ball and chill it for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness and cut into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Using a thin spatula, transfer cookies to cookie sheets. Gather up remaining scraps of dough and roll out again, cutting and rolling until you’ve used it all.

Bake cookies 10 minutes. Then cool 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

To make icing, combine all icing ingredients and mix until smooth. For colored icing, add a few drops of food coloring. Ice cookies while they’re still slightly warm. Then sprinkle immediately with decorative sugars. Cool completely to set.

Vegan Icing Variation

For vegan icing, combine 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, 4 tablespoons rice milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Beat until smooth.

TIP: If you use egg replacer instead of eggs to make cookies, follow directions up to step 4. Roll out soft dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper until the dough is ¼-inch thick. Transfer the dough, still between parchment paper, to a cookie sheet and chill for 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator and let sit about 5 minutes. Remove top sheet of parchment paper. Cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutters. Egg-free dough is slightly more crumbly, so use your hands to pinch the edges together as necessary. Transfer cookies to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Once you’ve cut out the first round of cookies, proceed as the recipe instructs, gathering up scraps of dough, lightly flouring your work surface and rolling pin, and rolling out remaining dough and cutting cookies.

Gluten-Free Cookie Flour Mix
Makes 6 Cups

4 cups superfine brown rice flour
1⅓ cups potato starch (not potato flour)
⅔ cup tapioca flour/starch
Combine all ingredients. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

This article was featured in the December/January 2009 issue.

homebaker's note:
For superfine brown rice flour, Living Without lists I simply use flour that I've ground from brown rice in my grain mill(Magic Mill III) at home- the mill grinds it very finely. The recipe turns out great.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why not use purchased egg replacer powder every time?

Why not use purchased egg replacer powder(such as Ener-G Egg Replacer) every time you need to substitute eggs?

It can be daunting to stare at a recipe and wonder, which egg substitute do I use? Why not just go the easy way and use "Ener-G Egg Replacer" in all your baked products? Probably in most cases the good old "Ener-G Egg Replacer" or other type product will work satisfactorily(make sure it contains no eggs- some egg replacers do). Don't mistunderstand: Egg Replacer is a wonderful resource. When adapting a recipe, I use it sometimes as my choice of egg substitute. It can be especially good at providing the structure in a baked good that an egg normally contributes. It lightens baked goods and helps them to rise. But I encourage you to understand how to use several different egg substitutes that you can make, or draw from your pantry or fridge at home. NOTE Nov 2010- I haven't used egg-replacer for several months now, and haven't missed it.

Here are my reasons for encouraging you to learn how to use a variety of egg substitutes:

Flavor: Egg Replacer does not contribute to the flavor of a product. Applesauce, prunes, flaxmeal, etc...all can add good flavor to baked goods. This is especially helpful for gluten-free products, which often can be bland.

Nutrition: Consider the nutrition of flax seed(Omegas, protein, fiber), or gelatin(protein- which is helpful to add to products made with gluten-free flour), or fruit or vegetable purees(vitamins and fiber), or tofu(protein). On the other hand, egg replacer is made up mostly of starches.

Flexibility/Convenience: Though it is convenient to use a single egg substitute product that you buy from a store, it is not convenient if you've just decided to bake something and notice you've run out of egg replacer. Not another trip to the store..! Instead, do you have baking soda, baking powder, vinegar, any kind of fresh or frozen fruit, flax, gelatin, pays to know a variety of ways to substitute an egg.

Price: Some items may be cheaper to use than purchased Egg-replacer. I intend to do cost comparisons sometime. For now, I assume that vinegar, baking powder/soda, and maybe applesauce are cheaper to use than purchased egg-replacer.

A couple experiences:

Normally I bake from scratch, but I have tried two gluten-free cake mixes. The first simply said to add eggs or egg replacer, water, and oil. That I did, adding Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of eggs. The cake was okay, but I didn't really enjoy it. The next cake mix said to add Buttermilk or yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Instead of eggs, I added applesauce, and added xanthan gum as well. I used vanilla yogurt(soy) for my liquid. Now this was a delicious cake! The various substitutes you choose in any given recipe will turn out differing results of texture and flavor.

Egg-Replacer is excellent at providing for structure normally provided by an egg. But it does not contribute to a recipe in the way of flavor or richness. This morning, my daughter had pancakes made from a gluten-free all purpose type of mix. I followed the waffle recipe and adapted as needed: honey, water, eggs, oil: I substituted one egg with applesauce, and one egg with flax meal. For the half the amount of honey called for, blueberry honey was used. I know that gluten-free flour is pretty bland on its own. But these were flavorful pancakes! They had a wonderful combination of flavor, provided by the applesauce, "nutty-ness" of the flax, and touch of blueberry honey.

How to Substitute Eggs

How do you substitute eggs in a recipe?

There are several possibilities for egg substitutions. It can be daunting to stare at a recipe and wonder, which egg substitute(s) do I use? Probably most important is to understand the function of the egg in the particular recipe you're altering. When you can understand what the eggs are contributing to the recipe, you can choose a particular product or group of products that contribute similarly. There are no egg substitutes, as far as I hear, that will mimic the egg exactly. But you can still have successful baked goods without the egg.* Four of the basic functions of eggs in baking are: to aid leavening/lighten, to bind, to provide richness/flavor, and to add moisture.

Here again are the basic roles of eggs, this time with various egg substitutes listed under each**


1/4 cup fruit puree: especially prunes, applesauce, banana, apricot, pear.
1/4 cup pureed carrot, pumpkin, winter squash, etc(can use baby foods or puree and freeze small amounts of produce to have on hand)
1/4 cup silken tofu, whipped; or add to liquid ingredients and blend til smooth.
1/4 cup yogurt(dairy or soy)

Leavening/Lighten: provides structure to allow rising agents to work. Egg lightens product.

1 tsp. baking powder, 1 T. liquid, 1 T. vinegar(mix together then add to recipe)
1 tsp. yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 T. water, 1 1/2 T. oil, 1 tsp. baking powder
Egg replacer powder such as Ener-G Egg Replacer(follow box instructions, or try twice amount powder as called for(suggested by Carol Fenster)

NOTE: general rule of thumb is to have no more than 1 T. baking powder total in a recipe, and no more than 1 tsp. baking soda total.

Binds(reduce crumbling, sticks product together)

1 T. flaxmeal + 2 T. warm water (for 2 eggs I 2 T + enough water to equal 1/3 cup)
Mix, let stand 5-10 min. to gel.
1 packet unflavored gelatin, 2 T. warm water. Do not mix until ready to use.
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin, 3 T. cold water & 2 T. plus 1 tsp. boiling water
1/2 banana, or 1/4 cup mashed


1 T. flaxmeal + 2 T. warm water (nutty flavor)
1/4 cup fruit or vegetable purees(see above)
1/4 cup coconut yogurt, coconut cream

Also to help provide richness or flavor in baked products, desserts, dishes:

Coconut oil or coconut milk can be used to replace some of the fat or liquid in recipe(richness)
Chocolate can be added to recipe(richness)
Molasses, added in small amount, like a small drop from the bottle, adds dimension of flavor(for example, in a coconut cream pie without eggs, 1 little drop helped the pie from tasting "flat.")
Spices can be added like cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.

The egg has several contributions to a baked product. But often in any given recipe, the egg will have one or two roles that are more important than the other functions of an egg. For example, some recipes have adequate leavening, and do not rely on the egg to provide more(the egg could provide additional lightness, yes, but the product could still rise satisfactorily without egg). Perhaps the recipe does not have much leavening, yet has a large amount of liquid. Perhaps the egg is not as important for its moisture as it is for the leavening. Perhaps a recipe has sufficient amounts of leavening and a large amount of liquid, but nothing to help the product "stick" together. Thus it would be important to choose an egg replacement that would bind.

When I adapt a recipe, I often use combinations of egg substitutes when there are two or more eggs. For example, flaxseed meal to bind, and then a leavening such as the baking powder or soda combination, or egg replacer powder. Or flaxseed meal or gelatin to bind, and then fruit/vegetable puree to add flavor and moisten. What I use to replace eggs also depends on the type of product I'm making, and what end results are most important to me. Waffles do not have to be light and fluffy for me to enjoy them. I would rather they have a good flavor and texture. So I often use flaxseed meal to add nuttiness, or applesauce or prunes to add moisture, and I don't worry about extra leavening. When analyzing if a recipe has sufficient leavening, keep in mind that too much baking powder or baking soda in a recipe can produce a bitter flavor in your finished product. A rule of thumb I learned from my "expert homemaker" sister is not to have more than 1 tablespoon baking powder per 2 cups of flour, or no more than 1 tsp baking soda per 2 cups flour. Even those amounts sound like too much for my taste preference. I am sensitive to the flavors of baking powder and baking soda. You'll learn what's okay with you as you bake and taste. Also, I think Carol Fenster has a listed amount of leavening to look for when deciding whether to add more leavening to a recipe. I came across a chart once, I think it was in her book "Special Diet Solutions: Healthy Cooking Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Yeast, or Refined Sugar;" Carol Fenster PhD.1997

Living Without Magazine( lists suggestions for substituting eggs:

If recipe calls for a lot of eggs, use silken tofu, pureed. (Note, I am avoiding soy presently, and have successfully replaced 4-5 eggs in a banana bread recipe satisfactorily, with no tofu used).

Otherwise, choose from the following substitutions. Amounts given are to replace 1 large egg.

3 T applesauce + 1 tsp baking powder

1 T flaxmeal + 3 T hot water(Let stand 10 min.); + Egg Replacer(follow package directions)

4 T pureed silken tofu + 1 teaspoon baking powder

This is found in the Living Without magazine, section called Living Without Pantry(p 62). Check out this magazine if you cannot have gluten and dairy or if you have multiple food allergies. Selections from the Living Without magazine can be found online at

Note that these substitution choices each have a binder and a leavening agent.

Analyzing a recipe for content of leavening, moisture, etc. and deciding the more important functions of the egg can be both science and art. It takes judgement. Maybe even guesswork. It takes practice. It takes experimentation. It can be quite subjective. Carol Fenster does give particular tips which are fairly objective, in "Special Diet Solutions: Healthy Cooking Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Yeast, or Refined Sugar;" Carol Fenster PhD.1997. Carol Fenster has a later book titled "Cooking Free: 200 Flavorful Recipes for People with Food Allergies and Multiple Food Sensitivities, By Carol Fenster, Ph.D. Avery/Penguin Group, 2005.

Fenster's tips help with deciding when to replace eggs with a binder, or with a leavening agent, or simply with a moistening agent, by giving actual amounts of ingredients to look for(ie how much baking powder/soda the recipe contains). Also she states percentage amounts of how much moisture/liquid to increase when substituting a leavening or binding agent for an egg. I haven't used Carol Fenster's objective amounts. Just thought that some of you might like something more objective than what I work with. I do use my sister's rule of thumb a lot to decide whether or not to add leavening to the recipe. Does it already have the max amount of baking powder? Then likely the recipe won't need yet another leavening agent for an egg replacement. Of course, just how light and fluffy you want the product to be might be a factor for you in deciding your egg substitute(s).

When adapting a recipe to be egg-free, I look at how much leavening is in the recipe. Does it already have a large amount of baking soda or powder, or yeast? In this case, adding more of the leavening that's already being used may result in a bitter off-taste. (My sister told me a rule of thumb that you don't want to exceed 1 tablespoon baking powder per 2 cups flour, or 1 tsp baking soda per 2 cups flour. Those amounts sound like too much for my tastes). If you want more leavening in the recipe, perhaps use some egg replacer powder, as it tastes different from the leavening agents already being used. Or, consider something that binds and moistens, rather than adding more leavening. Does the recipe have a fair amount of leavening without the egg? Consider a substitute that includes a little leavening and a binder, and/or moistening agent. If the recipe calls for 2 or more eggs, you can use a leavening agent to replace one egg, and then choose an additional egg substitute which binds or provides moisture or flavor. For example, a banana bread recipe calls for 4-5 eggs. I use a baking soda combination to replace one egg and then add flaxmeal(2 eggs worth), then one extra banana(2 eggs worth). If you are not familiar with baking from scratch, it may be hard for you to judge what a large or adequate amount of leavening or binder would be in a recipe. In that case, maybe you want to check out Carol Fenster's tips which give actual amounts to look for.

If the substitutes you use don't seem to make up for the liquid lost from the egg, you can slightly increase the liquid already called for in the recipe. When you adapt a recipe, you usually try to keep the liquid to dry ingredients proportion the same. I think Carol Fenster talks about increasing the liquid in the recipe 25% when substituting leavening or binder substitutes(I'll have to check on that sometime). So if a 1/2 cup of milk is called for, add an additional 1/8 cup of milk. I haven't bothered with this step. Or I don't do it so objectively. If my product is mixed together and doesn't look thin enough, I add more liquid. As you bake more, you can get used to what consistency a product should be before baking.

Learning how to adapt your own recipes to be egg-free can be a rewarding challenge. Choose a recipe and experiment with one set of egg substitutes, then substitute a different egg substitute, and compare texture and flavor. Finding specific recipes that already are adapted without eggs is very helpful. But it is limiting to have to rely solely on recipes you find that are adapted for all your needs. So pull out an old favorite recipe and try your hand at adjusting it! And keep experimenting! When you use already adapted recipes, analyze and try to understand how the recipe was adapted. Was the egg simply omitted? What was substituted in the egg's place? Was the moisture content of the liquids already present in the recipe increased? Sometimes you can find a set of two recipes that are easy to compare: one that was the original, and then one that is egg-free.

This is your opportunity to learn to provide satisfying, wholesome food for you and your family. Best wishes! Feel free to contribute any tips you learn or any recipes! : )

Notes, Resources, and Additional information

*Yes, some recipes really will not lend to any egg substitutions. I really wonder if angel food cake would turn out okay without the eggs! On the other hand, some recipes can simply have the eggs omitted without a problem. WikiHow online says any recipe calling for 1-2 eggs usually survives not having a substitute. Now that would depend on what you're making, and what results are satisfactory to you. I've made microwave cake mixes without egg (just mix cake mix and water together in a microwavable container). I make waffles and pancakes without egg. Just experiment with different egg substitutes(or no substitutes at all) and see what happens! I usually have a satisfactory product that's made various ways.

** These substitutes and amounts have been drawn from numerous sources, from books to internet sites, including:

"Dealing With Food Allergies in Babies and Children," by Janice Vickerstaff Joneja, PhD, RD

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network Four substitutes listed, editors say they work well when substituting 1-3 eggs in baking from scratch. Here are the substitutions: 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 T. liquid, 1 T. vinegar; 1 tsp. yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water ; 1 1/2 T. water, 1 1/2 T. oil, 1 tsp. baking powder; 1 packet gelatin, 2 T. warm water. Do not mix until ready to use.

The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by Marjorie Jones(2001)

The Complete Food allergy Cookbook by Marilyn Gioannini(1997)

Some helpful websites for substituting eggs: contains "recipe round ups" for egg substitutes. So far the substitutes featured in the recipes are: pureed fruit(applesauce, banana, prune), flaxseed meal, silken tofu, egg replacer powder. Also, the site includes a table on various egg substitutes and which baked goods they are best suitable for. I highly recommend this site!
Document called Egg Free Baking, updated November 2006. Tips for replacing eggs, and recipes.
Downloadable Booklet; Egg Free and Excellent; Tips and Techniques from My Kitchen to Yours; By Carol Fenster, Ph.D. – President, Savory Palate, Inc. $6.95. Carol's latest tips on selecting and using egg substitutes in baking. NOTE: I have not seen this booklet, but assume it would be informative. Carol Fenster is an allergy-free cooking/baking expert, and I've gleaned helpful information from books I've checked out from the library authored by her.
Other substitute suggestions:
For one cake recipe, a friend uses a gluten-free flour mix (Sylvian Border Farms General purpose Gluten-Free), and adds 1/2 c applesauce and then 1 tsp xantham gum per 1 c non-wheat flour(to compensate for lack of gluten, see post on non-wheat substitutes). In The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook, by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Marie Rominger(2004), 1/2 c - 1 c applesauce is used in place of 4-5 eggs in several cake recipes. For cookies, however, the author uses Ener-G egg replacer. The author explains that she uses the dry egg replacer when it's important for the good to have firmness and to have a good binder.

The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by Marjorie Jones(2001) and The Complete Food allergy Cookbook by Marilyn Gioannini(1997) give instructions for boiling flax in water, to form a mixture that has the consistency of a raw egg-white. This is useful for keeping things together in meatloaves or patties, says Jones. You boil 1/2 c water and 1 T whole flaxseed, and cook for 5 minutes on LOW heat. Flaxseed provides the greatest nutrition when freshly ground. In meal form, our bodies digest the nutrients more effectively than in the whole form. But as flaxseed meal ages, you lose vitamins. I assume that freezers help to preserve the vitamins. So I grind a batch of seeds into meal right before use and then freeze leftovers. I use my VitaMix to grind the seeds. Coffee grinders or hand-held cereal or spice grinders should work.

Gioannini's Complete Food Allergy Cookbook lists some advantages and disadvantages of substituting for eggs tofu, banana, flax seed, psyllium seed husk powder, arrowroot powder, tapioca flour, and commercial egg replacer. She directs how to use the subtitutes in recipes. I utilize tapioca starch or arrowroot starch in my gluten-free baking(see under non-wheat flour substitutions). Gioannini suggests 1 T per 1 c non glutenous flour used, for binding and lightening muffins or cookies. I've read that cornstarch can be used in place of arrowroot or tapioca starch, and I've used that succesfully in recipes. A note on the tapioca starch: Gioannini warns that tapioca is very sticky, use only a little(that's why the 1 T per 1 c flour), where Jones suggests you can substitute up to 25-50 percent of your flour to lighten baked goods. So, if you experiment with somewhat large amounts of tapioca and your product seems overly sticky, maybe it's too much tapioca.

Using tofu as an egg substitute provides moisture and nutrition. Tofu has high-quality protein, calcium, vitamins, and minterals. Use 1/4 c per egg. Whip it before adding it to the recipe. In the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, it is suggested that Silken tofu (Mori nu brand in a box) works best in dense cakes and brownies. I got that suggestion off a blog, which, by the way, I suggest checking out at The blogger author also cites Moskowitz in saying that 1/4 c soy yogurt can be used for 1 egg. Probably regular yogurt works, too, if dairy can be tolerated.

Psyllium seed husk powder is used a lot in Gioannini's baking recipes. It is a binder and adds fiber. It works well for breads, cookies, cakes, or muffins. It also can be used in meat loaf. Mix 1 T psyllium with 3 T water and let sit a few minutes before adding to the recipe. Or mix psyllium into dry ingredients and add 2 or 3 T extra liquid. Psyllium is sold in bulk as a laxative, but Gioannini claims that the amount she suggests in a recipe will not produce a strong laxative effect.

If using commercial egg-replacers, read the ingredient list VERY CAREFULLY. Some egg replacers have egg products in them, and there are a variety of egg replacer combinations depending on brand. Ener-G doesn't have any wheat, nut, eggs, or dairy. Hammond says she uses dry egg replacer when it's important for the good to have firmness and to have a good binder. I notice she uses it a lot in cookies. On, egg replacer powder is said to be suitable for all baked goods, especially cookies. This info(from obtained from a Carol Fenster book and a vegan baking book by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gluten Free Playdough

Here are some playdough recipes from Gluten-Free Mama( This site has recipes, gluten-free flour blends, and other stuff, including "kids corner," which is where I found the playdough recipes. I've only tried the Cornstarch Playdough, but it has worked well for us.

Cornstarch Playdough

1 cup baking soda
1 cup water
1 cup cornstarch

Mix ingredients in saucepan and stir over low heat, until very thick. Add food coloring. Remove from heat. Knead until smooth(cool a bit first so it doesn't burn your hands). Store in ziploc bag in refrigerator for up to a month.

Cornmeal Playdough

This is yellow and textured

1 1/2 cups corn flour
1 cup corn meal
1 cup salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup hot water plus 2 Tablespoons
1 Tablespoons oil

Mix until smooth; add more water if necessary to soften and smooth. Store in ziploc bag for up to a month.

Foods My Kids Eat

This is a list that I recently provided to my mother-in-law before going to visit her for a week. She has tried to provide for my daughter each time we've visited, but has struggled to know just what to fix. She really appreciated having a list ahead of time. She had a much better idea of what to fix each day!

Sweet potato- microwaved, baked, or deep fried

Potatoes- microwaved with salt and canola/veg oil;
sliced into fries and baked;(I use Kraft Honey BBQ, but any works as long as no wheat, dairy)
diced and cooked in skillet(with oil, salt, pepper, also sage and thyme are good)
mashed: I bake potatoes, then whip with water from the potatoes, sometimes some rice milk, then some oil and salt. Sometimes I add meat juice from whatever meat I've cooked.

Rice: vegetable stir-fry: vegetables and soy sauce(many brands have wheat, check)Great Value at Wal-Mart doesn't have wheat
rice and chicken bake: Rice, chicken thighs, and vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrots. Just use water(or chicken broth), and seasonings such as salt, pepper, onion, garlic, also sage, thyme are good.
Spanish rice: mix a can of tomato sauce into some cooked rice, also can add some blended diced tomatoes, and then add hamburger and some spices. (Garlic, onion, pepper, salt, maybe a little chili powder and cumin) Also can add some oil and some chicken broth.

Chicken drumsticks(can microwave or boil);
Chicken tenders(bagged frozen, plain chicken)
Chicken breasts: can put in a crockpot with salsa and shred, or cut up into strips and season with Season-All or other seasoning

Pork ribs or beef ribs, barbequed and roasted or broiled
Could have rice or potatoes on the side

Roast beef(ie crockpot with potatoes and veggies). No gravy needed(just use sauce), or gravy made with meat juices and water.
Tenderize and shred leftover roast beef. See the Roast Beef and Chimichangas post. My kids just eat the meat by itself. Basically, you just boil a roast with garlic, vinegas, and seasonings such as chili powder, oregano, salt, cumin, pepper; then shred the meat.

Beef steak. My husband experiments with various spices and cooks the steaks in Worcheshire, sometimes soy sauce, and some vinegar or lemon juice. It's different each time. Basically the kids love a steak as long as it isn't really dry.

Hamburgers: The kids just eat the meat alone, sometimes with some barbeque sauce. My oldest likes the hamburgers cooked with soy sauce. We usually bake potatoes(cut into wedges or slices and bake on a tray lined with oil) to go with the hamburgers. Then we have a fruit salad or fruit smoothie.

Bean soups: cook dry lentils with drumsticks, carrots, celery, and some seasonings(like pepper, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, basil, or sage)
"many bean soup"- cook several varieties of dry beans with ham hock or chicken drumsticks. My daughter enjoys picking out different varieties and helping sort and rinse.

Hot dogs (check for wheat or dairy), can have with chips, rice and salt/oil, Baked potato, mashed potato with oil/salt
Spam or Vienna Sausages

Ham and potatoes

Quinoa: vegetable stir-fry or basil/chicken dish.

Juice: White Grape, Apple, Orange(they don't really drink this by itself much, but they love Orange Julius: Just blend orange juice concentrate, Rice Milk, sugar, and ice cubes together).

Breakfast and Snacks:

Kix, AlphaBits(Post brand), Rice Chex(Brand name), Trix(though I prefer something less sweet and with less artificial color). Always recheck labels-cereals change.

Bananas, Apples, Grapes, occasionally strawberries
Dried fruit: prunes, blueberries, 100% fruit twists or fruit sticks
celery or carrot sticks
soy yogurt(make sure it's dairy-free)
canned or bottled fruit including mandarin oranges, applesauce, peaches, fruit cocktail)
Garbanzo bean waffles(I have the recipe on my blog, we can make these if we get the ingredients, they're simple to make)
Muffins or "wholesome" cookies(such as banana cookies, pumpkin cookies, zucchini cookies)
Oatmeal- buy just plain Quick Oats or Old Fashioned oats- then I add some brown sugar or regular sugar, salt, and water.
Stax brand potato chips(Not Pringles)
Trail mix: mix together stuff such as sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut
Leftovers from lunch or supper

I don't fix desserts usually, but if you are looking for something special, they could have:

lemon pudding cups(one brand I know lemon pudding is made without milk, check label)
Fruit crisp(easy to make with apples, brown sugar, and oats)
Marshmallows(they love these as a simple dessert or treat- just make sure there are no eggs, wheat, or dairy)
fruit snacks

Items that are helpful to have in stock:

Oats(Quick or Old Fashioned, don't need instant)
fruits/vegetables such as green beans, applesauce, peaches - fresh, canned, bottled, frozen
Rice(brown and white)
dry lentils
variety of dry beans, such as pinto, kidney, lima, black, great northern
meat(beef, chicken, turkey,pork)
bananas, apples, oranges, grapes
carrots, celery
cauliflower, broccoli, frozen or fresh
sweet potato
red or russet potato
vegetable oil(we like canola)
dairy-free soft tub margarine
coconut oil

Baking basics, including: sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, vanilla, xanthan gum, tapioca starch, rice flour(brown and white), garbanzo bean flour or ground lentils, oats(if you can have oats-grind them into flour with a blender)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Vegetable Brownies?!!

Brownies (With spinach and carrot)
From “Deceptively Delicious,” Jessica Seinfeld,
with my adaptations added in parentheses

3 oz semisweet chocolate
½ cup carrot puree
½ cup spinach puree
½ firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
2 tablespoons soft tub margarine spread(I use non-dairy*)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites(I used egg replacer-can try other substitutes as well)
¾ cup oat flour(blend old fashioned oats in a blender)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Melt chocolate. Combine melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine, and vanilla. Whisk 1-2 min until creamy.
Beat egg whites(or egg replacer), then stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Baker 35-40 min in greased 8 x 8 pan. Cool completely before eating; the spinach flavor disappears when brownie is cool. Absolutely delicious and really healthy for a brownie!

*Smart Balance is the tub spread I currently use, but check labels carefully, most recently only one type of Smart Balance has no casein and no whey.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie

At Thanksgiving time last year, I told my 3 year old that she could have pie of her very own. (With no wheat, dairy, egg, or nuts). My sister adapted a coconut cream pie recipe by America's Test Kitchen. It was really good! Look below for the original recipe, and then the adapted recipe, so you too can learn how you can alter a recipe for your needs!

Original America's Test Kitchen recipe:

1 can coconut milk
1 c whole milk
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
2/3 c sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 c cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
crust: coconut-graham cracker crust

Our dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free version:

Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie

(recipe is half the amount of the original recipe)

1 can coconut milk

1/4 cup coconut

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 T cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon non-dairy margarine or spread(opt, we just omitted this)

*about 1/8 teaspoon molasses

3 T. chocolate chips

Add enough of the coconut milk to the cornstarch to create a paste. Stir remaining coconut milk, sugar, and salt over medium heat until very hot. Pour some hot mixture into cornstarch paste, stir, then add cornstarch paste to mixture in pan. Stir to boiling, until 3-4 bubbles burst and thick. (About 30 seconds). Remove from heat, add vanilla, molasses, and, if desired, non-dairy marg. Heat 3 tablespoons chocolate chips in microwave(maybe 15 seconds), stir until melted, then stir into pie filling. Pour filling into crust.

Explanation: What we wanted in our coconut cream pie filling was 1) for it to be flavorful and creamy, 2) for it to be able to set up, to be thick enough to be a cream pie filling. We omitted egg yolks, which add richness and also add to the thickness. So we added 1 T extra cornstarch to the recipe(thus 3 T.) : 1/4 cup original recipe cut in half equals 2T. , then + 1 T. to account for omitted egg yolks), and added chocolate for richness. My sister was happy with the recipe, but I being picky, mentioned the flavor was still a little flat. So my sister added a quick drizzle of molasses(maybe 1/8 tsp.). Wow! It added the dimension I was looking for! The pie tasted great!

*we didn't measure the molasses, just added a quick drizzle- I estimate it was maybe 1/8 tsp)

Oat Pie Crust (found online, I think in a magazine that posted online)
note: You can go to if you want some pie crust recipe that don't use oats or wheat.

1 3/4 cups oats
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

In blender or food processor, finely grind.
Then pulse in 3 1/2 tablespoons cold butter(chopped into pieces), until combined. (I don't remember what we used instead of dairy- try shortening instead, or soy margarine, or even coconut oil that's cold enough to be solid).
Add 1 tablespoon ice water, and pulse until combined.
Press into pie pan. Bake 400 15 min until lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes before filling.

Note: Go to for pie crust recipes that do not contain oats.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies

Adapted from my sister's collection of pumpkin recipes, "No Egg Pumpkin Cookies" I just replaced the flour cup for cup with rice and oat flours, and added tapioca flour and xanthan gum.

When I pulled these out of the oven, my kids ate lots of them! Delicious! I made one huge batch and froze them. We enjoyed them for several snacks. They are wholesome, flavorful, have a nice crispy/springy outside, and a moist, tender inside.

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed(I actually prefer a little less, maybe 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons oil

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oat flour
2 tablespoons tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin(or pumpkin puree)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c raisins or non-dairy chocolate chips

Beat together wet ingredients and sugar. Sift together dry ingredients, then stir into wet ingredients until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips or raisins. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 350 12-15 min. Makes around 3 dozen.

A variation:

The recipe above turned out just slightly gummy, I thought(sticks to teeth and top of mouth a bit). Great cookies, but I wondered how I could improve the cookies to not be gummy at all. Here's a variation that didn't stick to the top of the mouth. I added some precooked white cornmeal. One drawback for me- the corn flavor occasionally comes out a little too strong.

For dry ingredients: cut oat flour down to 1/2 cup. Then in a 1 cup measure, add 1/2 cornmeal, 2 T tapioca starch, 1 tsp xanthan gum, and enough rice flour to fill up the cup. Add spices and baking powder/soda in same amounts as above.