Category Archives: Grains

THE BEST DARN CORNBREAD MUFFINS – GFree, Refined Sugar-Free, Fat-Free

Best Darn Cornbread Muffins (18) CROPPED

I really like cornbread.  There is just something about ending a cold day with a bowl of hot stew, chili, or soup and a side of cornbread.

When I was really young that meant opening a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix and as I got older my family transitioned to Marie Callender’s cornbread mix.  Let’s just say that Marie set the bar pretty stinkin’ high…that stuff is gooood!!!

When we found out that my daughter needed to go gluten-free I began purchasing pre-packaged gluten-free cornbread mixes and I have to say that I have just been tolerating them.  In my opinion I have yet to come across one that is good.  The mixes I have purchased through the years tend to be bland and DRY.

I finally decided to tackle the gluten-free cornbread monster and came-up with a recipe that I am really happy with.  The muffins taste like corn and honey and they are nice and moist.  To top it off there is no refined sugar and these moist muffins have NO OIL!!!

Problem solved.

THE BEST DARN CORNBREAD MUFFINS

Best Darn Vegan Gluten-Free Cornbread Muffin COLLAGE 2

INGREDIENTS – Makes 12 muffins

DRY
1 cup finely ground cornmeal
3/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used King Arthur)
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
 
WET
1 cup applesauce
1 cup creamed corn (8.5 oz. can…make sure it is dairy-free)
8.75 oz. can whole kernel corn (no salt added), drained (chop finely if desired)
2-4 Tbs honey (I prefer 2 Tbs) (to make vegan, use maple syrup or agave)
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (I used convection bake).

Combine the cornmeal, flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl combine the applesauce, creamed corn and honey.  Whisk together until fully incorporated.

Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon until fully mixed.

Chop up the whole kernel corn until it is the size you prefer for your muffins.  Fold the corn kernels into the batter.

Line your muffin tins (grease lightly with coconut oil spray) and fill each muffin 2/3 full with batter.

Bake for 14-18 minutes (rotating half-way through) until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely. *

These muffins taste great straight out of the refrigerator.

.Best Darn Cornbread Muffins (26)

*Remember that homemade gluten-free baked goods taste best once they have cooled completely.  Straight out of the oven they tend to be gummy.

For a printable recipe click HERE.

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Filed under Breads / Crackers / Muffins, Cake, Dessert, Gluten Free, Grains, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian

OAT-FREE GLUTEN-FREE GRANOLA

A while back I discovered that I was allergic to oats.  Major bummer.  I have always really enjoyed oatmeal and granola (not to mention oatmeal raisin cookies!!!).

I still regularly make Maple Almond Granola with my kids and the last time I made it with my daughter I decided I was going to try and make some oat-free gluten-free granola for myself.  I am happy to report that it worked!

While the granola did not clump together like a traditional granola would, the flavor is great and the granola is good and crispy just like I like it!

INGREDIENTS
 
2-1/2 cups quinoa flakes
2 cups buckwheat groats
3/4 cup (3 ounces) raw sunflower seeds
2/3 cup lowfat shredded coconut
1 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A dark amber (I use 1 cup)
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cups dried OR freeze dried fruit (optional)
 

Bake at 325 degrees for 25-40 minutes (stirring every 8-10 minutes) until golden brown.

Once nice and golden brown, remove from the oven, add dried fruit if desired, and allow to cool.

***My favorite way to eat this granola is on top of plain vegan yogurt and thawed frozen wild blueberries…SO GOOD!!!
 

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For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

Image by Tony Tseng

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Filed under Breakfast, Gluten Free, Grains, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

SRC – Mom Francesca’s Eggplant and Onion Casserole

My Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month of November was The Recipe Taster.  I loved reading how he became interested in food and cooking at a young age:

“My childhood in Sicily was spent splattering colors or sketching on anything at hand and getting dirty with clay or gypsum. Soon though, TV chefs motivated me to take advantage of the free kitchen in those few afternoons that I was left alone at home.  I can still remember the first gooey meringues I prepared; perched on top of a silver presentoir, over a delicately embroidered white linen napkin, they waited on the kitchen table for my parents’ return, a token of gratitude for what they did and will be doing for me.
It wasn’t until I moved to Florence, in 1997, for University that I found myself in charge of my own food. The big city meant exposure to foreign food, new ingredients, new inspirations that fed my ever increasing curiosity. Soon all my house-mates relied on me for their dinners.”

When perusing the blog there were many recipes that were worthy of a feature, however I decided to make “Mom Francesca’s Eggplant and Onion Casserole” for TWO reasons…

  1. I really like eggplant and am always looking for new ways to prepare it.
  2. My mom’s name is Francis and she had Italian as one of her majors in college

It was simply meant to be.

I made the recipe according to the instructions below from The Recipe Taster’s website, with the exception of the olive oil.  I used the tiniest amount to grease the bottom of the casserole and did not drizzle any more oil onto the casserole.  What resulted was a casserole which was a bit dry looking on top after baking, but that was easily remedied by mixing the casserole prior to serving…you won’t even miss the oil and your heart will thank you!

MOM FRANCESCA’S EGGPLANT and ONION CASSEROLE 

Ingredients (serve 4-6 people):

  • 300g onions, mixed red and yellow 
  • 600g eggplant, about 2 medium ones 
  • 45g/1/4cup quinoa 
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (optional) 
  • dried oregano, to taste 
  • 1 small can chopped tomatoes in juice 
  • extra virgin olive oil (I barely used any)
  • 1/3 cup white wine 
  • salt 

Method:

Set your oven to 200C/390F and while it is eating up prepare the vegetables.

Trim the stem and flower ends from the eggplants and cut them into 3-4 drums across their length. Lay the drums cut side down and cut them vertically into planks about 5 mm/1/5″ thick and set aside.

Peel the onions, cut them in half and then into slices about 3mm/1/10″ thick.

To build the casserole, chose an oven-proof dish that could accommodate the ingredients in at least 2 layers. 

Grease the bottom of the dish with about 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (I used about 1/2 of that), place some of the onions on it followed by the eggplants (if the pieces are too wide to fit in, tear them in halves using your hands). Sprinkle the eggplants with some of the quinoa and salt. Add a pinch of oregano, red pepper flakes (if using). Cover with some of the tomato pieces. 

Continue layering the ingredients as described until either the oven dish is filled up or the ingredients run out. 

Finish the casserole with a layer of onions a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Pour the white wine over the vegetables and bake the casserole for about 1h-1h30m or until cooked through. To test for doneness try a piece of eggplant, it should still retain some bite but must be cooked through. Check the casserole every now and then and if the top is browning too fast, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil. 

Baked Casserole Prior to Mixing

Baked Casserole AFTER Mixing

Let the casserole cool down a bit before serving since it will be boiling hot. Coincidentally, this dish is great even served at room temperature. 



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Filed under Gluten Free, Grains, Main Dish, Recipes, Secret Recipe Club, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

End of Summer, Grain-Free?, & BIG NEWS!!!

It has been a busy few weeks.  The kids and I made the trek up to my parent’s house in Santa Cruz for our Nana and Papa time.  We had a lot of fun at the Boardwalk, exploring new beaches, and hiking to the amazing natural pool pictured above (It is called the Garden of Eden).

We also took a ride on the Roaring Camp Railroad which I hadn’t done in years.  The picture below is of my kiddos and parents on the railroad.

We headed from my parent’s house straight over to my sister and brother-in-law’s house near Tahoe for some serious cousin time before the school year and crazy schedules began.

We had a fantastic time and capped it all off with some tubing on Lake Tahoe (That’s my sister and I below…we screamed like little girls!) before making the LONG roadtrip home (It was so worth it).

Prior to going on the trip I had just finished my 80-10-10 trial and was all gung-ho to continue eating grain-free.  I managed to do so through our stay at my parent’s house and then began eating grains at my sister’s house.  Guess what…I felt great!  No bloating, no problems.  I did remain gluten-free though.  Maybe my body just needed a reset and the 80/10/10 did that for me.

Bottom line, I plan on eating what feels right (vegan and gluten-free…with the exception of some egg whites from time to time), and I will play the grain thing by ear.  I don’t feel like restricting myself or labeling myself grain-free.  When I want them and they digest well, I will have them.

AND now the BIG NEWS.  We have a new member of our family.

Meet “Dug.”

Could my kids possibly be MORE excited???  To be fair, my grin was just as big.

Dug will be 11 weeks old on Wednesday and is seriously the cutest Goldendoodle we have ever seen (Think we are biased???)

We are so in love and thrilled that he is rounding out our family.

Off to potty-train…

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Filed under Grains, Vacation

SECRET INGREDIENT CHOCOLATE AMARETTO PUDDING

This recipe was created prior to learning about my oat allergy.  While I loved how this recipe turned-out, my body did not.  That being said, if your body does not have any issues with oats, this pudding is for you…it is healthy, lowfat, and free of processed sugar.

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Trying Wayfare’s puddings at this years Natural Products Expo West inspired this recipe.  I like the idea of using whole grains to thicken pudding since they are essential to a healthy diet and also health-promoting.  What’s better than that?  This pudding is so healthy that I will let my kids eat it for breakfast… after all it is made out of oats.  Hurray for healthy desserts!!!

If you are not a fan of almond extract…go ahead and leave it out.  You will love the chocolaty results.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup gluten-free old fashioned oats
2 cups filtered water
1/2 cup So Delicious Creamer
1 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
1/2  cup cocoa powder
6 stevia packets
6 dates
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond extract*
 
*Feel free to substitute other flavorings, i.e. mint, raspberry, orange…but start with 1/2 tsp and work your way up from there.  I have not tried any others, so I am not sure how much of each to use.

Place the oatmeal and filtered water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat.  Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow the oats to simmer until thickened.  Once the oats have thickened, turn off the heat and place the lid on the saucepan.  Let the oats sit for 10 minutes.

Once the oats have thickened, place them in your high-speed blender (I use a Vitamix) with the remaining ingredients.  Allow the mixture to blend for a full 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed (I know it’s a long time…trust me on this).  Once the 3 minutes are up, CAREFULLY remove the lid since the pudding will be VERY HOT!!!

Pour the hot pudding into a glass tupperware and allow it to cool to room temperature before placing it in the fridge to set.

For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

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Filed under Breakfast, Dessert, Gluten Free, Grains, Kid Friendly, Pudding / Mousse, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

LENTIL SALAD IN A BELL PEPPER BOWL

I couldn’t for the life of me come-up with an interesting name for this meal, but that doesn’t mean that this meal doesn’t rock…because it does.  This salad in a pepper bowl covers all the bases; protein, complex carbs, and vitamins galore not to mention the fact that you eat the bowl…no dishes!!!

A few weeks ago I was talking to my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher after school about food and recipes…an almost daily occurance between the two of us (my daughter knows to keep playing when we get on the subject of food, because we are GUARANTEED to be there for a long while) and she mentioned that the last time she was at Trader Joe’s they made a yummy salad by mixing together pre-cooked lentils and bruschetta.  Um, yum!

I think I might be single-handedly responsible for purchasing all of Trader Joe’s bruschetta.  While I can make my own, this product has saved me so much time and the flavor is amazing.  What is NOT amazing is the amount of olive oil they add to it.  Rest-assured, I have a solution for this problem.  When I buy the bruschetta I put it in the coldest part of my fridge for a day and all of the olive oil floats to the top and solidifies a bit making it quite easy to skim-off and throw in the trash can (better the trash can than my arteries!).

I have been eating this like crazy and it is now a staple in my fridge.  I took the liberty of adding some rice to the salad and really enjoy the results.

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INGREDIENTS

1 container Trader Joe’s Bruschetta (oil skimmed off)
1 box Melissa’s Steamed Lentils
1 bag Trader Joe’s Frozen Rice Medley* OR Frozen Organic Brown Rice

*Trader Joe’s Frozen Rice Medley contains barley which is not gluten free

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Cook the frozen rice by placing it in a glass bowl (NOT in the plastic as the directions suggest) and microwaving for 2-3 minutes.

Mix together the rice, lentils, and bruschetta (including all of the juice).

Cut the top off of a bell pepper and remove the seeds.  Spoon the lentil salad into the prepared bell pepper and enjoy!

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For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Gluten Free, Grains, Main Dish, Product Reviews, Quick, Quick Tips, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

SRC – PEANUT BUTTER GRANOLA BARS (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oat Free)

My how time flies!  Somehow it is already May and brochures have started coming in the mail for summer camps, etc.  I don’t feel ready to plan the summer yet.  I LOVE having my kiddos home with me, but I am sitting here wondering what the heck happened to winter???  Time needs to slow down a bit.

A new month means another Secret Recipe Club assignment and this month’s was a good one.  I was assigned the blog, An Opera Singer in the Kitchen which got me all excited because I had already spent quite a bit of time surfing Noelle’s blog prior to even being assigned it.  We both share similar food styles (she has a fondness for vegan food) and both of us are very into the health aspects of food, so this is a great pairing for me (Click HERE to learn more about Noelle).

There were a LOT of recipes I wanted to try; Fluffy Pumpkin Biscuits, Farmhouse Veggie Burgers, Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic & Mint (A post she did for SRC), Lasagna SoupI could go on and on.

When i sat down to make my final decision I was in a sweet / crunchy kind of mood and decided to make the recipe she posted for Peanut Butter Granola Bars since it looked so AMAZING.  I have always loved peanut butter and I am a granola monster, so I knew this would be a winner.  I had a truckload of gluten-free oats in the pantry, so I thought I was all set to make this recipe and then I found out…I am ALLERGIC TO OATS!!!  I had been suspecting this for a while and during my last appointment with Dr. Galitzer I had him test me and he informed me that my body REALLY doesn’t like oats.

Despite my new found knowledge that I have an oat allergy, I was bound and determined to make this granola bar recipe because I had my heart set on it, so I lugged myself to Mother’s Market on a quest for quinoa flakes.  When I got there I was pleasantly surprised to discover Eden Organic’s Short Grain Brown Rice Flakes (Roasted & Rolled).  These puppies looked very similar to rolled oats.  Score!  They are harder than rolled oats, but that is easily rectified by adding a little bit of liquid.  I made the recipe as listed below with my notes in red.  The next time I make these granola bars (you’d better believe there will be a next time, and a next time, and a next time), I plan on adding 1/4-1/3 cup of liquid (water, fresh juice, nut-based milk) to soften the brown rice flakes even more.

This recipe was a winner…

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
makes 18 bars

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (1 1/2 cups Eden brown rice flakes)
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
3/4 cup puffed millet cereal (3/4 cup quinoa flakes)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries (3/4 cup raisins & 3/4 cup dried cherries)
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds (organic peanut butter)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line a medium baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with coconut non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients.

In a small bowl add the peanut butter and the brown rice syrup. Place in microwave for 30 seconds (or heat in a saucepan on the stove over low heat…I would add the extra liquid at this point too).

Add the warmed wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well until evenly distributed.

Pour the mixture on a lightly greased baking sheet or casserole dish. Pat until evenly distributed.  I pressed the granola mixture down as evenly and flatly as I could and then placed an identical pan on top and pressed that down to compact it further and even it out as much as possible.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Using a knife, cut into 4×2 inch bars.

NOTE – I accidentally dropped the pan when I was flipping it onto the cutting board (oops!).  The pieces that I couldn’t rescue and make into bars became granola.  I broke them up into a pan and baked them for another 7-10 minutes…delicious!!!

Cool completely and then wrap individually in Saran Wrap or store in a glass container (glass mason jar works perfect for the granola.



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Filed under Breakfast, Cookies / Bars, Dessert, Energy Bars, Gluten Free, Grains, Kid Friendly, Quick, Recipes, Secret Recipe Club

QUICK & EASY SPANISH RICE

I almost feel silly writing this post because this Spanish rice comes together so ridiculously easy, however my family has been raving about it so much that they told me I had to post about it.

On occasion we do eat white rice as a treat.  Trader Joe’s sells a frozen organic Basmati rice that is really tasty and smells like popcorn (it tops my husband’s rice list).  They also sell my favorite pre-made salsa, Serrano Salsa Fresca (In the refrigerated section by the hummus and bruschetta).

All you do to whip this up is cook the rice in the microwave with a small dollop of Earth Balance (please don’t microwave the rice in the plastic bags…transfer it to a bowl), and then when you take it out of the micro, mix in the serrano salsa to taste…that’s it!

Happy early Cinco de Mayo!!!

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Filed under Gluten Free, Grains, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Sides, Vegan, Vegetarian

CAULIFLOWER RICE

I had been meaning to try cauliflower rice for a long time.  I know people who follow the Paleo Diet swear by it, so a few days ago I FINALLY tried it.

The verdict?  I like it.  I took a head of organic cauliflower, chopped it up, and put it in the food processor (If the head of cauliflower is large, you may have to process it in two batches).  I “pulsed” it until it resembled the texture of rice and it was done.  Simple.

When dinner time rolled around I put the stir-fry I made over the raw cauliflower rice and it was surprisingly good.  In the next few days I plan on trying to make my stand-by fried rice recipe with the cauliflower rice to see how it turns out. I don’t want the “rice” to get mushy, so I don’t plan on cooking it long at all.

Come to think of it, I think I need to share with you my fried rice recipe!  Post to come soon…

8 Comments

Filed under Grains, Raw, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables

MARCH SRC – Pumpkin Rice Pudding

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club I was assigned Tea and Scones.  Margaret of Tea and Scones has some amazing baking on her site!  While I have to agree with her that scones are amazing, I was drawn to her Pumpkin Rice Pudding recipe.

In her post Margaret mentioned that the recipe made A LOT of rice pudding, so I halved the recipe.  I also took her advice to pump-up the spice a bit.  Since I wanted to veganize the recipe I made the following substitutions; maple syrup for honey and So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk for the cow’s milk.  Lastly, I reduced the amount of sweetener (in my case maple syrup) because in general I do not like my desserts as sweet as most people do.

Life was a bit busy the day I decided to make the rice pudding, so I decided to take a chance and make it in my rice cooker vs. on the stove and then in the oven.  The results were great! As my daughter would say, this recipe was easy peasy lemon squeezy.

INGREDIENTS – Serves 4

½ cup Arborio rice
1 1/2 cup Unsweetened So Delicious coconut milk
1 cup water
½ cup organic canned pumpkin
¼ cup organic maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt

Place the Arborio rice into the rice cooker.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk to incorporate well.

Pour the mixture into the rice cooker over the Arborio rice and lightly stir.

Program the rice cooker to cook on the “brown rice” setting and press start.

When the rice cooker completes the brown rice cycle, simply mix the pumpkin pudding well and serve either warm or chilled.  The picture immediately below is of the rice pudding prior to stirring and the bottom image is immediately after stirring.

If serving the pudding warm (my favorite way), top with non-dairy milk.  If serving chilled, top with non-dairy whipped cream.  I also love topping the pudding with some raisins.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.



30 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Dessert, Gluten Free, Grains, Pudding / Mousse, Recipes, Secret Recipe Club, Vegan, Vegetarian