Tag Archives: gluten free

Lavender biscuits (Recipe Redux)

June’s Recipe Redux challenge was flowers. As soon as I saw the theme, I knew what I wanted to experiment with: a floral, oh-so-slightly sweet twist on the high-protein crackers I’ve been making on and off since January, when I devised my Sesame nori crackers. I’ve come up with several different savory versions, but had been thinking it would be nice to have an option to pair with an afternoon cup of tea (and a novel–my current choice is The Goddess Chronicle, which so far has managed to suck me in pretty thoroughly).

Lavender seemed like the perfect addition to the mix, so I bicycled over to the local natural foods store to get some food-grade dried flowers, and got busy. These biscuits have a lovely crumbly texture, and a light, subtle flavor. There are definite coconut undertones, which mix with vanilla and lavender for a lovely afternoon treat.

I’ve been on a slow but steady mission to eliminate (or really, drastically cut) sugar out of my diet for a while now. I was hoping the coconut flour and oil in this recipe might be just enough sweetness on its own for this recipe, but it really did benefit from the addition of those two dates to the mix. If you are determined to make a completely sugar-free version, a pinch or two of stevia could probably be used instead.

Lavender biscuits
makes 20 biscuits

Ingredients
1/4 c. coconut oil
2 dates, finely chopped
1/2 c. blanched almonds
1/2 c. pea protein powder
1/4 c. coconut flour
1 tbsp. ground psyllium husk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp dried lavender buds

Method

1. In a food processor fitted with the metal S-blade, combine the dates and coconut oil, and process until blended. Add the almonds, protein powder, coconut flour, and psyllium husk, and process to a coarse meal. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and water, and process until the dough begins to stick together in a cohesive lump.

2. Remove dough from food processor and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Flatten slightly, and sprinkle about half of the lavender buds on top. Work the lavender into the dough by folding and flattening several times, then flatten the dough slightly and repeat with the remaining lavender.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. When the lavender has been worked into the dough, cover with a second sheet to parchment paper and roll the dough to ~1/4″ thickness. Using a 2″ round cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place on a baking tray. The recipe should yield ~20 biscuits. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until biscuits are lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from the tray.

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Sesame nori crackers (vegan, gluten free)

Sesame nori crackers

I love reading other food blogs. Often, it’s just because I love seeing (and trying) other people’s great recipes. But sometimes another food blog also kicks me off towards trying something new of my own. Case in point, last week Gena put together a great post on packing your own healthy and vegan lunch. The post included some photos and descriptions of her lunches, and one of the items was described as a raw cracker with nori. I’d been having salty crunchy foods on the brain all week, and the mention of nori immediately sent my mind over to those little puffed rice snacks that sometimes come wrapped in nori. Obviously, my Friday afternoon was going to be spent making some nori crackers (un-raw variety).

Sesame nori crackers

I’m doing a pretty strict elimination diet right now in a bid to wean myself off sugar (for the curious, I’m using the diet plan outlined in Alejandro Junger’s book Clean as the template), so crackers with wheat flour were going to be right out. Also, no eggs to bind things together. I’ve tried making vegan crackers with straight almond flour in the past and they’ve always lacked structural stability (I probably need to use a finer grind of almond flour instead of cheaping out and making my own all the time). I went looking for some other ideas and lo and behold, another of my favorite bloggers has a recipe for vegan gluten free crackers that use a mix of rice flour and almond meal. I didn’t have any rice flour, but I did just become the proud owner of this massive container of rice protein powder. That could work, right? High protein, salty, crunchy snack food, here I come!

It took a little playing around, but I did finally wind up with a cracker with that salty, tangy flavor I was going for. Using the rice protein powder also worked out really well–the crackers weren’t as grainy as some of my previous all-almond crackers, and they held together really well too (I’m sure the flax meal also contributes to that). They aren’t quite like crackers made from wheat (obviously), but I’d say they compare favorably with any of the store-bought gluten free crackers I’ve tried. P

Sesame nori crackers

Sesame nori crackers
Makes aproximately 30 crackers

Ingredients
1/2 c. unflavored brown rice protein powder
1/2 c. raw almonds
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp tamari sauce
1/4 c. + 1 tbsp water
1/4 c. sesame seeds
2 sheets dried nori seaweed, cut into small strips or pieces

Method
1. In a food processor fitted with the metal S-blade, combine all ingredients except the sesame seeds and nori. Grind until mixture takes on the consistency of a thick paste. Add the sesame seeds and incorporate with a few quick pulses. Remove dough from processor and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes (this step will allow the flax meal to absorb excess liquid and make the dough less sticky).

2. Press dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper, forming a rough rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Spread 1/3 of the seaweed pieces across the dough, then fold dough into thirds. Repeat this step twice more to incorporate the remaining nori. Continue pressing and folding dough until nori is incorporated throughout dough.

3. Preheat oven to 400F. Layer a second piece of parchment paper across the top of the dough and roll to desired thickness (mine were a little over 1/8″). Use a butter knife or a pizza cutter to cut dough into squares. Transfer the bottom sheet of parchment paper, with crackers on it, to a baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 8-12 minutes, until crackers are slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow too cool. Crackers will firm up and become crisper with cooling.

Curried red lentil soup

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Come January, I always seem to be craving foods that are a little lighter, “cleaner”, healthier, whatever. This soup is one result of those cravings. I made a big crockpot of it on New Year’s day, had some friends over for dinner, and served it alongside a salad of mixed greens and lemon tahini dressing. I cooked up another batch today, so it seemed an appropriate time to share the recipe.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I find lentils, while delicious, cheap, and nutritious, can get a little heavy and stodgy on their own. This recipe breaks up the lentils with a slew of vegetables, then fires and brightens with the addition of Thai chilis and a dash of lime juice. Coconut milk adds a creamy finish that separates the dish from your stereotypical cheap student fare (without actually breaking the grocery budget, excellent). If you’re feeling yourself held a little too closely in winter’s grip, this soup is sure to loosen it’s hold with a shot of delicious at the dinner table.

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Curried red lentil soup
Serves 8-10

Ingredients
3 c. dried red lentils
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2″ dice
4 cloves garlic
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4″ dice
3 zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 3/4″ dice
2 stalks of celery, cut into 3/4″ dice
3 Thai chili peppers, finely diced
2 tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
8 c. vegetable broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk.
Juice of one lime

Method

1. Soak lentils in cold water overnight (you can skip this step, plan on extending the cooking time by 10-20 minutes, and adding additional liquid). When ready to make the soup, place lentils in a large soup or stockpot

2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil to medium heat. Saute the onions until soft and slightly translucent, 6-10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2-3 minutes more. Transfer onion and garlic mixture to stockpot with lentils.

3. Add 1 tbsp oil to skillet, saute carrots for 8-12 minutes, until soft and with a few browned edges. Transfer to stockpot. Repeat with zucchini and celery.

4. Add chilis, curry powder, cumin, and coriander. Turn heat to medium and stir all ingredients together until evenly coated with spices. Continue stirring for 2 minutes more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook soup, covered, for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are cooked through and soft. Add coconut milk and lime juice and allow soup to heat through. Remove from heat and serve.

Tahini lemon dressing

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There’s something about having a 4lb jar of tahini in your fridge. You just start wanting to add it to everything. Hummus (no surprise there), cookies (a little less typical), and today, salad dressing.

Normally I’m not a huge salads-in-winter person, but when the produce market keeps putting 3lbs for $3 bags of salad greens front and center at the entrance, well…habits can change.

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This dressing is a riff on a recipe that I first saw in my old standby, Vegan with A Vengeance, but I’ve played around with the preparation and simplified things by using the microwave rather than the stovetop to “cook” the garlic. All you purists out there, use the stovetop, but I like the speed and ease that the microwave provides.

Tahini lemon dressing
makes ~1/2c. of dressing

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lemon (~2 tbsp)
3 tbsp tahini
1/4 c. water

Method
1. In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the oil on high power for 30 seconds. Add the garlic (be careful handling the bowl, it may get very hot), and microwave for 20 seconds more. Allow to cool for at least 1 minute.

2. Add the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and tahini to the oil and garlic. Stir together, the tahini will initially seize up and become stiff, continue stirring until the mixture is smooth. Add 2 tbsp of water and stir until smooth again. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of water if needed (this will depend upon your preferred dressing consistency).

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Add to salad and enjoy!

This dressing will keep in the fridge for several days, you may need to thin it out with a little more water or olive oil if it stiffens up after refrigeration.

White bean and butternut bake (gluten free)

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M. and I are back on the west coast, after a relaxing week visiting family and old friends back in NC. We woke up on New Year’s Eve at 4AM, hopped a non-stop flight, and arrived home just before midday. Needless to say, we were completely knackered and did not stay up to ring in the New Year. But we did manage to polish off the last of this casserole (stored in the freezer after the November batch cook day) for our final meal of 2013.

M. and I both love cheesy baked casseroles and lasagnas, and this dish was devised as a healthier twist on that favorite theme. I blended ricotta with white beans to create a creamy filling, layered it with sauteed onion and slices of butternut squash, then topped with parmesan and put the whole concoction into the oven. I also used this recipe to experiment a bit with the sage + squash combination I seem to find popping up everywhere these days. I was initially dubious, but after having made this casserole a few times, I’m definitely realizing I should have gotten over those doubts earlier! It’s an unexpected but delightful taste pairing.

I made this casserole using our 12″ cast iron skillet as the baking vessel, but you can also use a 13 x 9″ covered baking dish as a substitute if you prefer.

White Bean and Butternut Bake (gluten free)
serves 8-10

Ingredients
1 butternut squash (~4 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2″ slices
2 c. cooked white beans
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
8-10 twists of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried sage leaves
4 oz. parmesan cheese, grated

Method
1. Place squash slices in a microwave safe dish with 2 tbsp water, cover, and microwave on high power for 6 minutes.

2. Combine white beans, ricotta, pepper, and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal s-blade, and process until smooth. Taste, and add more salt or pepper if needed.

3. In 12″ skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute onion for 12-15 minutes over medium heat, until beginning to brown and caramelize slightly. Add the garlic and sage and saute for 3-5 minutes more. Remove onions from pan and begin oven preheating to 400F

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4. Lightly oil the skillet or baking dish, then arrange a layer of squash on the bottom. Top with 1/3 of the bean and ricotta mixture, and 1/2 of the onions. Repeat this layering twice more, omitting the onion on the final layer. If there are any remaining squash slices, arrange them on top of the dish, then top with the grated parmesan.

5. Bake, covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until parmesan is beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tahini and lime cookies (vegan, gluten free)

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This weekend, I was doing some baking, and M. requested “paleo” cookies. These little morsels, a remake of a favorite recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar, were the result. If the flavor combination is sounding a little odd to you, let me assure you that actually, lime and tahini in cookie form is pretty awesome. Also, I’ve practically convinced myself that they’re seasonally appropriate: citrus is abundant in winter, and tahini, being Middle Eastern, is totally something that might have been eaten by shepherds gathering around the manger in Bethlehem. Right? Maybe? At any rate, these cookies are moist, lightly sweetened, and perfect for pairing with and afternoon or evening cup of tea.

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I considered calling these cookies “sugar free”, but ultimately decided not to. If you draw your “sugar” line at table sugar, then feel free to consider this recipe sugar free. Personally, I always feel a bit weird calling a fruit-sweetened dessert “sugar free”, because fruit does contain sugar. So instead I’ll give the long form: these are sweetened with dates, and they have about half as many sugar calories as most “conventional” cookie recipes, plus a bit more fiber and protein. Okay, spiel over. Back to the recipe. It’s really good, I promise.

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Tahini and Lime cookies (vegan, gluten free)
makes 2-3 dozen cookies

Ingredients
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. tahini
12 dates, pitted and roughly chopped
grated zest of 2 limes
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c. lime juice
3/4 c. almond milk
1 c. coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp sesame seeds

Method
1. Sift together coconut flour, salt, and baking powder.

2. In a food processor fitted with the metal s-blade, blend together oil, tahini, lime zest, and dates until dates are fully incorporated (there will probably still be some brown flecks.

3. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer (or, if you don’t have one, a wooden spoon), incorporate the remaining wet ingredients into the mixture. Add the flour mixture, a few large spoonfuls at a time. When all the flour has been incorporated, the dough should be moist and somewhat sticky (if you pick up a piece, pinch it, and then pull your fingers apart, some dough should stay stuck to your hands). If needed, add more almond milk to the mixture, one tablespoon at time.

4. Start oven preheating to 350F and line two baking pans with parchment paper. Place sesame seeds on a small plate or saucer. Form dough into approximately 1″ balls. Press each ball into the sesame seeds, then place on the baking tray, seed side up.

5. Bake at 350F for 14-16 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before eating (if you can!)

Chocolate hazelnut truffles (vegan)

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This past weekend I felt like a big “Christmas is coming!” light finally went on. Sure, the retail sector has been pushing Christmas for the past month, but I’ve managed to remain fairly oblivious. On Sunday, things conspired to remind me: it was the beginning of Advent, Trader Joe’s positioned a huge display of peppermint hot chocolate prominently by their front door, and both of my parents demanded that I provide them with flight information for our planned visit back East later this month.

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Anyway. One thing I love to do each December is to make a few edible treats to gift to friends or just bring to parties as needed. For a long time, I stuck with my mother’s trusted ginger cutout recipe (which I think I’ll be trotting out again this year for a cookie exchange). There was also the year of the church window candy (cute, but a little ho-hum), the year my German teacher assigned me the task of making pfeffernusse and I turned our hand mixer into a hot smoky mess (never again), and the year of the custom hot cocoa mixes (which was a major hit).

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This year, one of my projects is these little vegan “truffles”. Technically they aren’t really truffles, since they’re vegan and don’t involve a cream-based ganache, but they are rich and intensely chocolatey, which to me are two of the essential qualities of any chocolate truffle. Loaded with cocoa powder, spiked with hazelnut liquer, and of course, finished off with a chocolate shell coating. These are absolutely a treat to be savored. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to call them a health food, they’re fairly low in sugar compared to a lot of traditional holiday treats.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
makes 24 small truffles

Ingredients
1 1/4 c. hazelnuts
1 tsp hazelnut extract or liqueur, such as Frangelico
1/2 tsp coffee extract, or strong espresso
2 dates, pitted and roughly chopped
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

For the chocolate coating
2 oz dark chocolate
2 tsp coconut oil

Method

1. Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Place the hazelnuts in the pan and toast, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes, until the skins have turned a very dark brown. Remove nuts from heat and transfer them to a clean cloth. Fold the cloth up to make a bag around the nuts and shake vigorously. This step should remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts. Set 12 hazelnuts aside (these will be used for decorating, so try to pick nice looking ones).

2. In a metal food processor fitted with the s-blade, grind the remaining hazelnuts into a rough butter. This step will likely take ~10 minutes.

3. Add the extracts, dates, and cocoa powder to the nut butter. Process until smooth, pausing once or twice to scrap down the sides of the processor.

4. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Roll the truffle mix into 24 balls. Each ball should be slightly over 1 tsp of the truffle mixture. Place in the fridge to cool for 20 minutes.

5. While the truffles are cooling, cut each of the 12 reserved hazelnuts in half. Then make the chocolate coating: place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave at 50% power for 1 minute. Stir and continue melting in 30 second increments if needed. When chocolate is melted, stir in the coconut oil.

6. Dip the truffles in chocolate. I used a small wooden skewer to spear each truffle and dip it, then let the chocolate coating drip off for a few seconds. Place each dipped truffle back on the parchment paper and top with a hazelnut half. When all truffles are dipped, return to the refrigerator and cool until chocolate has hardened.

Store in a cool location.