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Every once in a while, I crave sweet, like all normal people. I especially want my CHOCOLATE. I love chocolate.

Usually I’ll have a few squares of 85%-90% cacao chocolate, like Lindt, or Green & Black Organic. Yet, sometimes, I just need to feel the soft, creamy, chocolaty, mousse-like texture on my tongue.  

Chocolate pudding, Paleo

Tad-dam
Chocolate Pudding.

Enter the chocolate pudding.

For this basic pudding, there are no more than 4 ingredients (!):

  • 1 whole avocado, ripe
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 2 TBS cacao powder
  • 2 TBS pure maple syrup
group photo. say cheese, ahem... I mean chocolate

group photo. say cheese, ahem… I mean chocolate

how-to:

  1. With a spoon, scoop out all the avocado, sans skin and seed, into a food processor. Lick the spoon, it’s good for you.
  2. Add the other ingredients to the food processor.
  3. Start processing by pulsing on high speed, until the mixture is homogeneous, in a creamy-like consistency. You do not want to see little specks of avocado. Everything has to look like brown, chocolaty, unified pudding.
  4. At this point, you may transfer the cream into a nice container, and cool it for 10 minutes in the fridge. Or, I just finish it off right there and then.
ingredients for paleo chocolate pudding

ingredients enjoying their last moments as singles

paleo chocolate pudding

ingredients are blended into a soft, velvety chocolate pudding

notes:

  1. coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup- you want them of high quality, preferably organic.
  2. you better blend the mixture well, or else you’ll have green avocado specks. While that’s not too bad, try to explain that to your guests.
  3. Personally, I don’t go after a very sweet kick, a little will go a long way. Being Paleo kind of lowered my sweet-taste lever, so 2 TBS of maple syrup are enough for me. You may need to add maple if you like it sweeter.
  4. This is a basic recipe, but there are many add-ons that could elevate your pudding for a festive occasion or just to fancy it up. Add any one of these to the food processor: 1/2 sp. pure vanilla extract, 100 g of melted chocolate bar, chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamia, etc.), shredded coconut (I used it on top, to garnish), chopped dates, chocolate chips, chopped banana chips, whatever makes you happy.
  5. do not refrigerate the pudding for too long, as the coconut oil tends to harden.
sweet life

sweet life

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It may be a busy summer, even for updating my blog, but it’s never too busy for food making (almost). This time, I decided to make some time, and post an easy peasy recipe.

While due to my Paleo nutrition I keep most nuts to a minimum (I usually stick to macadamia nuts), my kids are not whole Paleo. The transition is slow. They would still take sandwiches to school (summer camp) for lunch, along with some veggie snacks or fruit.  To spoil them a bit, and to get them off of peanut butter, I have decided to make hazelnut butter/spread.

an all natural roaster hazelnut chocolate butter, diy

a wee scoop of hazelnut-chocolate butter on celery

Without further ado, I would like to introduce … The Hazelnut Chocolate Spread.

you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of raw hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 tsp 100% cacao powder (or more)
  • 4-5 pitted dates

how to:

1. Heat oven to 350°f.

2. Spread the hazelnuts on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Check on them occasionally, and make sure they’re not burning.  Wiggle the baking sheet if needed.

3. Transfer the roasted hazelnuts onto a clean towel, even if they’re still a bit hot. Wrap them and rub them, until most of the skins come off. These will produce a creamier butter. Oh- of course not all skins will come off 🙂

roasted hazelnuts, skins removed

roasted hazelnuts, skins removed

4. Place the hazelnuts and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor, and process in pulses (watch out, you don’t want to over heat the machine), until you get a nice, smooth, creamy consistency. All you need is patience.

on the way to becoming a hazelnut chocolate butter

roasted hazelnuts + chocolate powder + dates + sea salt

an all natural roaster hazelnut chocolate butter, diy

roasted hazelnuts n’ chocolate butter half way through

an all natural roaster hazelnut chocolate butter, diy

roasted hazelnuts butter- done!

5. Transfer to a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Place in the refrigerator.

notes:

Just like any kind of sauce, salsa, or smoothie, nut butter recipes are always open to suggestions, trials, and imagination. Explore and add: vanilla extract, chilli powder, maple syrup, honey, another kind of nut, more chocolate powder, coconut shreds, and cinnamon.

You can also play around with the consistency. Go for crunchy if you like (less process in the machine).

Ta- Dam

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I came across a beautiful photo of a blueberry pie, and it made me yearn for something like that, for my self.

Since we practice Paleo, our foods are gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free (and other stuff as well).

I based the cake on this wonderful chocolate cake, but changed and modified the ingredients for my beloved, blue themed, blueberry cake. I call it cake, since it doesn’t really look like a pie…

Image

decorated cake, dotted with blues.

What’s really nice about this cake, is you can mix all the ingredients in your food processor, and voilà – you only mess up one bowl. Aha!

you’ll need:

  • 9″ round pie dish, greased (with coconut butter). So what if it’s not a pie, eh?
  • 11 pitted dates (why 11? that’s what I had) ;
  • 1 banana ;
  • 3 eggs ;
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter ;
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract ;
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour ;
  • 1/2 cup almond flour ;
  • 1 tsp baking soda, aluminum free ;
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt ;
  • 1/2 cup water ;
  • 1 cup blueberries + handful of blueberries .

how to:

Heat oven to 350°f.

Place the dates and banana in the food processor, pulse the machine until combined.

Add the wet ingredients: eggs, vanilla extract, coconut butter, and water. Pulse again, until combined.

Add the dry ingredients: coconut flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. You guessed it: pulse until combined.

Transfer about 1/2 the “dough” (more like wet dough) onto the pie dish. Try to even it, so it covers nicely the bottom of the dish.

Just like a pie- time to add the filling. Spread the 1 cup of blueberries on top of the batter in the pie dish. If you like the strong texture and taste of blueberries, by all means, add more. Lots more. Remember though, more blueberries, means the bottom of your cake will be more moist.

blueberries cake

bottom half of the blueberry cake

Now add the remaining wet dough on top of the blueberries. Use a spatula to even out the batter, smooth and nice.

Decorate with the remaining blueberries.

Bake the pie for 45-50 minutes, or until golden-brown on top (depends on your oven).

Be proud, smile, eat, and share.

Image

fresh

Note: don’t expect a very sweet cake. We like it that way.

Check out my gluten free chocolate cake, and gluten free carrot cake.

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gluten free, dairy free, carrot cake

gluten free, dairy free, carrot cake

It’s been over a few months that I have been living Paleo style. Although the transition for me is not that hard (tossing away breads, pasta, cakes, etc. are, in fact, a piece of cake. It’s the yogurts that I miss), I can’t force it on my kids.

In order to minimize, what I believe, is one of the most harmful “foods” that can go in my kids’ bodies, aka gluten, I try and make snacks, cakes, and munchies that are gluten free for them. These are not a major portion of their diet, but “that little something” when they need something sweet, when they have friends over, or when I have friends over 🙂

Experimenting before with gluten free chocolate cake that turned out awesome, I went ahead and concocted this carrot cake, after a regular recipe that I had, but of course, modified it. Once again, the star ingredient is the chickpea flour, that I discovered in the Indian store.

my secret ingredient to gluten free baking

chickpea flour, also called Besan flour, or Gram flour, from the Indian store.

So if you’re looking for a gluten free cake, for any bunch of reasons (hey, Passover is coming up, so it’s kosher, too), give it a try.

you’ll need:

  • greased 9″ round cake pan. I used the spring-form one.  A square pan will also do.
  • 1.5 cups chickpea flour;
  • half cup sugar;
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder, aluminum free;
  • pinch of salt (yap, salt);
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder;
  • 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract;
  • 3 heaped Tbsp coconut oil, in a small glass;
  • 1 cup water;
  • 2 cups grated carrots;
  • 1 egg;
  • good quality chocolate chips, optional.
love the colors

love the colors

how-to:

Heat oven to 350°f.

Throw the chickpea flour in a bowl. Since this flour tends to have clusters, try to crush them with a tablespoon. Add the rest of the dry ingredients (not the chocolate chips), and mix well.

Add the grated carrots in the dry mixture, and mix so the carrots are covered well with the flour all over, and you see these cute orangy little chunks.

carrot chunks, cuties

carrot chunks, cuties

Insert the glass with the coconut oil into the micro, run it for 20 seconds, mix the oil with a spoon until it’s melted. If not melted, insert for another 10 seconds. This should be enough. Add the coconut oil to the mixture, along with the water, and vanilla extract, and whisk slowly together, until smooth and all the flour dissolved. Now add the egg, and once again, whisk slowly together.

It's not snow. It's coconut oil in a cool blue glass, waiting to be melted

It’s not snow. It’s coconut oil in a cool blue glass, waiting to be melted

Pour the whole mixture onto the greased pan. Now is the time to add some chocolate chips if you want, right on top.

The whole thing goes on vacation in the oven, for 50-60 minutes. As with chickpea flour, don’t expect a high rise. Good things come in small packages.

notes:

  • Grated carrots? I just throw them in the food processor. Life should be easy.
  • I try to use coconut oil for almost all of my bakings/fryings, for two main reasons: (1) I stay away from bad industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower, canola, etc.) and use only, what I consider, good fat, for the reasons mentioned in the link about the gluten (above), and (2) coconut oil is not vulnerable to the oxidative damage that occurs with high-heat cooking using other fats.
  • If you’d rather keep out of refined sugar, use Raw honey, or, soak a few dates in hot water for 30 minutes, and  throw them with the carrots in the food processor and don’t use any other sweetener. Feel free to adjust sweeteners according to your sweet tasting buds (most cake recipes call for 1.5 cups of sugar, but we don’t like it that sweet);
  • when adding the water, you may notice that you need a bit more than 1 cup. you want to have a smooth fluidish batter.
  • I mentioned 50-60 minutes in the oven, as every oven is different. Check after 50 minutes to see that the cake is dry on top, and golden.
  • If you want to get fancy, real fancy, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top, once the cake has cooled down.
fancy carrot cake

fancy carrot cake

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Paleo almond cookie and mini muffin.

For quite some time, I’ve been reading about the Paleo diet. Finally, as a token to the endless tradition of making resolutions on New Year’s Eve, I have joined the crowds, and made a resolution of my own. I have decided to try out this diet, for at least a month.

Paleo is not just a diet, but a way of life. As a holistic view, one should eat right, exercise daily, and sleep well (and… keep un-stressed). Sounds logical, no?

The very basic nutritional diet rules rely on the right proteins, fats, carbs and veggies. Nothing new here, right?

Well, as Paleo goes (or primal, caveman, stone-age diet), one should NOT consume refined sugar, refined salt, dairy, legumes, gluten, and processed oils. More or less.

Oy!! Then what have we left to eat??

Grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables. More or less.

Read the basics here.

Left to brighten my coffee with only almond milk (and I must confess, I’m slowly getting off coffee as well), I needed that something comforting to chew on, next to my coffee.

It didn’t take long for the aha moment to arrive.

As I make my own almond milk (easy peasy, see previous post), I’m left with all that almond pulp, which leads to… almond cookies.

for 25-30 cookies, you’ll need:

  • almond-date left-over pulp from 3 cups of almonds (that were used for the almond milk);
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut;
  • 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder (try not to use the dutch processed one);
  • 1/3 cup raw sesame seeds. Some seeds, sesame among them, may be considered Paleo, yet they contain high amount of omega 6 fatty acids (compared with its low omega 3 content), which is not so good. Rule of moderation! I find 1/3 cup for 25 cookies to be OK. You can definitely play around with the quantity. Take some off, add more coconut…
  • 2 Tbs raw honey, or pure maple syrup, or any combination. Those sweeteners are sugary and processed, and honey is fructose, so they are not ideal per-Se, but in this case I go for moderation again, thinking these 2 Tbs are divided among 25-30 cookies. You may want to try Stevia or dextrose. Lemme’ know if you did, and the outcome.
  • 3 eggs
  • optional : dates.

how-to:

heat oven to 350°f, and grease baking paper (in the pans) with coconut oil.

combine all ingredients in a bowl (excluding the optional dates).

Almond milk pulp

drop a spoon full of dough onto baking sheet, and then press it down slightly with the back of the spoon. keep them around 1 inch apart.

don’t move girls

another option is to fill a greased mini-muffin pan with the dough.

finally, you can add small chopped pieces of a date by pressing them onto the cookies or mini-muffins.

into the oven they go for 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven, until the cookies are beginning to tan. Let cookies cool outside the oven for 10 minutes.

mini muffins in pink

now, I (and you) can enjoy one (or two) cookies with our coffee.

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I am so proud of myself, that I needed to brag. I just never knew that making an almond milk could be so easy.

sweet almond milk, home made

sweet almond milk, homemade

Lately I have been trying to find new kinds of “milk” besides cow’s milk, as the latter felt too heavy.

The almond milk  that’s found in the stores isn’t just almonds, but has other additives. So, in my search, I found a great site, full of  explanations about the different milks (cow, soy, nut) and a recipe for homemade almond milk. Guess what? It worked, and it’s so EZ, Not to mention- white and sweet.

I made mine with less dates- thus less sweet, and didn’t use cheesecloth or a “nut milk bag”, but a regular strainer/sieve.

without further ado, turn to choosing raw.

Cheers !

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I first noticed these sweeties at the Indian store. Of course I bought them, and they looked and tasted yummy. Online, I found this recipe, but have decided to make mine a little different, with the ingredients I had at home, and no butter. These are gluten free, but if you don’t care, you can add wheat, oats and more, to your taste.

I usually chew down a few balls right before I start my run, for a boost of energy.

Now- you’ll need to excuse the lack of exact quantities, as I made them without measuring.

ingredients for date energy bombs

sweet and crunchy

you’ll need:

  • 1 handful pistachios
  • 1 handful almonds
  • 1 handful walnuts
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of pitted dates or pitted date mixture*, or half of each combined together
  • 2-3 tablespoons tahini (100% ground sesame seeds paste)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or silan**

how-to:

  1. throw walnuts + pistachios + almonds in the food processor, and chop chop- yet- not till it’s powdery, but way before that, when the mixture has small chunks that you would feel in your mouth.
  2. add dates + tahini + honey (or silan), and mix till it’s blended to a nice, soft mixture that kind of sticks together. If you feel that it falls apart, add more dates and a bit of honey.
  3. with hands, roll mixture into little balls, place on a tray and into the freezer they go. Take out or move to the fridge for a softer bite.

notes:

* date mixtures can be found in specialty cook stores or any middle eastern or indian stores. I find the regular pitted dates to work great !

** silan is honey made from dates. Can be found in the kosher isle of some stores. Reg. honey will do !!

***finally, add-ons: almost anything yummy can be added to compose a real good snack: cocoa powder, coconut powder or flakes, any kind of nuts, puffed kamut/rice/wheat, chia, quinoa, corn flakes, old dried cookies, sesame seeds, etc. Also, instead of dates, you can put figs, or a combo of both.

Deliciouso !

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