Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chewy Chocolate-Cranberry/Cherry Cookies... a gluten free treat

I'm really excited to share this recipe! It's another one of my favorite gluten free cookies.

Call me crazy…but the dough is fabulous too.

 I say call me crazy because if you have read about my food allergies you know I can't have gluten, dairy or eggs...which means my cookie dough doesn't always taste like that wonderful chocolate chip dough we know and love!!   But indulge a little...this dough is good!!

I used a small size scoop to make my cookies.

Look at all the yummy treats in this cookie dough!

If you count weight watcher points, each small cookie has 3 points. Each larger cookie has about 5.5 points.

Chewy Chocolate-Cranberry/Cherry Cookies               Makes 48-50 small cookies or 25-27            
                                                                                             or larger cookies. 
1 cup butter, softened - or dairy free substitute.
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar.
1/2 cup granulated sugar, I used beet sugar.
2 eggs, or egg replacer. I used an egg replacer.
2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
1 Tbsp milk or non-dairy substitute. I used rice milk.
1 1/4 cups flour, I used a gluten free blend. Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour.
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats, I used gluten free.
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries.   Cut cherries in half if pieces are too large.
1 cup semi-sweet regular or mini chocolate chips. I used an allergy friendly brand.
3-4 Tbsp cacao nibs, optional. (I toss these in just about all my cookies with chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325
I like to line my baking sheets with parchment paper, but it is optional.

In a large mixing bowl add butter or dairy free substitute, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Mix together until creamy and smooth. Add eggs or egg substitute, vanilla and milk or dairy free substitute.  Mix well.

In a smaller mixing bowl, combine next 6 ingredients. Stir to blend.
Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. Mix well.

Add dried fruit and chocolate chips…cacao nibs too if you decide to give them a try. Stir well.
Drop large or small scoops of dough onto baking sheets. Bake 12 minutes for smaller cookies, add a few more minutes for larger cookies.

Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before removing from pan. (I actually eat one right away)
Then cool completely on wire racks.

I like to make a big batch of these cookies and freeze them.

 I hope you enjoy these cookies…and the dough!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

GF Magic Fudge Brownies

Gluten free, egg free, dairy free, in fact…you might be surprised at exactly what is in them.

They are sweetened with dates, xylitol and stevia.  Mine have some dairy free, allergy friendly chocolate chips on top because I haven't found any without sugar cane that are also gluten free. These are really delicious even if you skipped those mini chocolate chips on top.

I like to keep mine refrigerated or even better, frozen. That way I don't feel like I have to eat them all at once…besides, they are amazing frozen!  I'm having some tonight with Allergy Friendly Vanilla Soft Serve!

I actually got this recipe at my doctors office from a lady I was visiting with in the waiting room. She was also celiac and dairy free. She reached in her purse and pulled out this recipe. She insisted I try this recipe, and promised that I would love it…she was right!!

So naturally it is only right to continue sharing! I wasn't given a name for these brownies, so I decided to call them, GF Magic Fudge Brownies.

GF Magic Fudge Brownies                      Makes a 8"x 8" pan.
1/4 cup pureed dates. Soak about 8 dates in 3/4 cup water and let sit for an hour or so. Drain excess water and puree the dates.
1/4 cup frozen mashed banana. Pre-freeze one banana, then slightly defrost in microwave and mash.
1 cup sunflower butter  *see note below on how I prepare my sunflower butter with less sweeteners.
2 Tbsp ground chia seeds, mixed with 3 Tbsp water and allowed to thicken.
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil.
2 Tbsp honey, brown rice syrup, or agave syrup. (vegans use brown rice syrup or agave)
1/4 cup xylitol
10 drops liquid stevia concentrate
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup allergy friendly semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray or additional coconut oil.
Everything is mixed in a food processor. First add mashed banana, sunflower butter and chia seed gel mixture. Process well, mixture should be smooth. Then add coconut oil, honey or syrup, pureed dates, xylitol, stevia and vanilla. Process again until smooth. Add cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Process one last time until smooth. Transfer to prepared pan and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

If you are like me you won't be able to wait... and will try some while they are cooling!!
Cut into serving sizes of your choice and enjoy this chocolatey treat!!

And don't forget to try some frozen too.  Please continue to share this recipe with family and friends!

Weight watcher points plus followers may want to enjoy these with those extra weekly points, at 4.5 points each. Without chocolate chips 4.2 each. Worth every bite!!

* I purchase two sunflower seed butters at a time. One that is sweetened and one that is unsweetened. I open them both and combined them in a mixing bowl. Then I return this new mixture to the original sunflower seed containers. Now my sunflower butter has half the sweetener.  


Sunday, September 18, 2016

GF Double Chocolate Banana Brownies

These brownies are amazing. This recipe will be highlighted, starred, maybe even framed! I tend to be a brownie fan anyway, so I am really excited to share this recipe. These brownies are lower in fat and a little healthier because bananas and applesauce are added in.  There isn't a strong banana flavor and they are chewy and chocolaty. I froze my leftovers because I couldn't stop eating them. And then what happens....  I like them just as much frozen. That means now there are two great ways to enjoy these brownies!

I couldn't decide if I liked the chocolate frosting or the vanilla frosting!

If you count weight watcher points...without the frosting each brownie has 5 points. If you decide to add a little frosting, each Tbsp of frosting is an extra point.

*Feel free to use all-purpose flour if gluten free isn't needed. When using all-purpose flour, also omit xanthan gum and 2 Tbsp milk from recipe. Baking time will need to be decreased by 10 minutes.

 GF Double Chocolate Banana Brownies                          Makes 20 servings
2 cups gluten free flour baking blend.
1 cup granulated sugar, I used beet sugar.
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk or non-dairy type product (I used soy milk)
1/4 cup canola oil, or any oil preference
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, I used Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Frosting is optional - Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Vanilla and Chocolate  are gluten and dairy free. Chocolate Fudge has been a safe choice as well in the past but current research is not clear.

Preheat oven to 350.         Prepare a 9"x13" pan with a non stick spray.
In a large mixing bowl combine together, flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
In a small bowl combine, bananas, milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix well.
Add banana mixture to flour mixture stirring gently. Mixture will be gooey and glue like, but continue to stir until blended. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour and press into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 25 minutes or when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Don't over bake.
Cool brownies on a wire rack.

Cut into squares or frost and add more chips/nuts.

No matter how you stack them....

or frost them... and your whole family are going to love them!


Friday, September 16, 2016

Gluten Free Crispy Oat & Honey Bars

This quick little recipe is a treasure. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like these bars. And, they taste a lot like the ones you can purchase. 

You could change things up and add different flavored chips, mix in some peanut butter or other nut butters, or mix in a little coconut. There are so many options.

If you are following weight watchers... points add up to 50 for the whole recipe. We then divided the recipe two ways. First we made these 1/4" thick on a 9"x13" shallow baking pan and cut them into 28 servings. These bars have 2 points each.

This way you get a little something sweet without adding up a lot of points or calories.

The second way we made them was to press them into a smaller baking sheet so they were 1/2" thick and cut them into 14 servings at 4 points each. 

Gluten Free Crispy Oat & Honey Bars
Prepare baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray

1/4 cup butter (or non-dairy butter substitute)
1/4 cup honey, agave for vegan.
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats (not rolled oats) gluten free if needed
1 cup gluten free crispy rice cereal, I used (Gluten Free Rice Krispies).
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life gluten and dairy free).

In a medium size mixing bowl add oats and rice cereal, mix.
In a small sauce pan add butter, honey and brown sugar. Mix as it comes to a soft boil.
Reduce heat and let cook for 2 minutes stirring the whole time.
Remove from heat and add vanilla, mix.
Pour over oat mixure and mix well.
Press onto a prepared 9"x13" shallow baking sheet or smaller.
Sprinkle chocolate chips over bars and gently press them in.
Let cool 1-2 hours.
Store bars in an air tight container.

Note - of course gluten free products are not necessary if not needed.

However you decide to slice them up, they will be a hit I'm sure of it!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

GF Trail Mix Krispie Treat Treasures

Here is a fun new twist on krispie rice treats.

I've seen a lot of variations to the original recipe, but this one really grabbed my attention since I love dried cranberries and chocolate!  I found this recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray Craisins bag, they called it, Trail Mix Treasures. But I made some changes for my gluten free friends (and myself). 

GF Trail Mix Krispie Treat Treasures               Makes a 9"x13" pan of treats
1/4 cup butter or butter substitute
40 regular or 5 cups miniature marshmallows,  Vegans use Dandies Brand
5 cups crispy rice cereal (regular if GF isn't necessary)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Prepare 9"x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large saucepan melt butter or butter substitute. Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
Remove from heat and stir in krispie rice cereal, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Add 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips, stir to just mix in.
Press into prepared 9"x13" baking dish.
Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips  over top and press them in slightly.
Let cool. Cut into whatever size treats you like!
Store in an air tight container for several days.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Four ways to make blueberry muffins so everyone can enjoy them.

My family loves blueberry muffins. I have been making variations of this recipe since my children were little. I have made them gluten free, sugar-free, low-fat and just the regular way. I want to share with you one of the absolute best blueberry muffin recipes I have ever tasted. I am going to share the original recipe for those without any health restrictions, the gluten free version, and a low-fat recipe that can also be made gluten free.

Note: If you are following a sugar restricted program you can simply replace the sugar with your favorite sugar substitute. I have used Stevia as well as Splenda and Splenda Blend as sugar substitutes and all have been successful. Follow the directions on the sugar substitute package for amounts, they will vary.

Original Blueberry Muffin:     Makes 12 muffins
1 3/4 cup flour (I always used unbleached) or gluten free blend
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for gluten free muffins.
2 eggs, or egg replacer
3/4 cup milk, or non-dairy substitute
1/4 cup melted butter, or non-dairy substitute
1-1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray muffin tin with pam or use liners.
In a large mixing bowl add the following:
1 3/4 cup flour (I always use unbleached)
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder.
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for gluten free only.
Mix well.

In a small mixing bowl add the following:
2 eggs, or egg replacer.
3/4 cup milk, or non-dairy substitute.
1/4 cup melted butter (I do not use unsalted) or non-dairy substitute
Mix well.

Stir liquid mixture into flour mixture and with a large spoon. Fold in 1 heaping cup of fresh or frozen blueberries. Here's my tip for super great muffins.....have another 1/4-1/2 cup of berries on the side ready to add as the batter gets near the end, that ensures every muffin has plenty of berries.

Put in oven for 23-25 min. and be sure to test for doneness by lightly touching the top of a couple muffins and watch for it to spring back. Because of the large amount of berries in these muffins the toothpick test is not as effective. When muffins are done let sit them for a couple minutes and then go around the edge of the muffins with a knife to help remove from the tins. If there are any leftovers you can put them in a freezer bag and have them handy for a snack or breakfast in a matter of seconds by popping them in the microwave.

Vegan:   Makes 12
Substitute eggs with ENER G Egg Replacer or ground Chia Seeds. Use 1 tsp ground chia seeds and 2 Tbl water for each egg. Mix in a small custard dish and let sit until gels. Substitute milk with, Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Rice Milk or any of your favortie milk substitutes. Substitute butter with  Earth Balance.

Gluten free:
Replace the flour with any gluten free flour baking blend. Try one of my mixes, homemade gluten free flour combinations .   Your baking powder should also be gluten free which should say on the label. I replace the chicken eggs with duck eggs because my daughter and I are allergic to chicken eggs. You can also use an egg replacer. I also use soy milk or rice milk (both unsweetened) to replace the milk, as we are also allergic to dairy.  No other variations are needed and they are delicious.

If you count weight watcher points,  each muffin has 4 points using regular or gluten free flour, an egg and a low-fat milk or soy product.

 Low-fat Blueberry Muffin:     makes 12
1 3/4 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free)
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for gluten free only.
1 cup fat-free milk or non-dairy substitute
1 egg or 2 whites for an even lower fat version, or egg substitute
4 tsp melted butter or non-dairy substitute
1 1/4 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 400. Spray or line muffin tin.
In a large mixing bowl:
1 3/4 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free)
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for gluten free muffins.

In a small mixing bowl:
1 cup fat-free milk (or milk substitute)
1 egg (or 2 whites for an even lower fat version)
4 teaspoons melted butter (or a dairy free butter)

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir. Fold in 1-1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries. Spoon into muffin tins and bake 20-25 min depending on oven. Let sit for a couple minutes and remove from muffin tin. You will love them!! No one needs to feel like they can't enjoy good food.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Delicious Way To Dry Plums

I'm just not a big prune fan…but I do like plums. We have two plum trees that provided us with more plums than we could eat and share.  Being fans of dried fruit, we decided to try drying the plums sliced like many other fruits.  

We learned a couple things from this…they take twice as long to dry, and they are wonderful!!

Just place sliced plums on dryer racks and set the temp at 135. Let dry least 6-8 hours but depending on thickness of slices it could take longer  .

When they are dry there should be no juicy or squishy parts on the fruit. As you can see in the photo below.

 Place in freezer bag or other air tight containers and store in a cool part of the house for 6-12 months.

We like to add cut up dried fruit to our green salad, cereal, trail mix, or just eat alone as a snack.
Weight watchers count 3 points for 1/4 cup of dried fruit.