Chocolate Teff Brownies

My husband and I were invited to a cook-out recently. He knew the couple hosting the event; I didn’t know anyone. I volunteered to bring a dessert so that there would be something gluten-free available for my husband. A look through my pantry and through my favorite cookbook (as you likely know by now!), Nourishing Meals, and I settled on some Chocolate Chip Teff Brownies with an added dairy-free ganache. They were absolutely delicious and received rave reviews from the party goers.

Chocolate Teff Brownies

CHOCOLATE TEFF BROWNIES
(from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
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Dry Ingredients
1 c. teff flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. dates, pitted
1/4 c. ground flaxseeds
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Mix-in
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 7 x 11 baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Place the dates and ground flaxseeds into a blender; pour the boiling water over them. Let sit for 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and quickly whisk together. Add the chocolate chips and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined.

Pour better into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 oz chocolate chips
1/4 c. coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Place all ingredients into a small pan and heat over low. Stir continuously until melted and thickened, just about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Do not chill. Drizzle over brownies.

Or, if you would like a thick, creamy, spreadable frosting then let the ganache thicken at room temperature for about 3 hours.

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Spinach Pesto Pasta

I love a good pesto during the summer. In the past I have not had particularly great success with making my own pesto. I just never felt like I got the flavor and texture correct. And now, since going dairy-free, I have to consider pesto without the Parmesan cheese. I decided to mesh a couple of recipes together to create this dairy-free pesto to go over a roasted tomato and white bean pasta dish. It was delicious! And the leftover pesto is great for topping homemade pizza or using for a pita bread dip.

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SPINACH PESTO
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2 1/2 c. baby spinach
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. walnut pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Add the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, and lemon juice into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is broken down into small pieces. Add the nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Whirl until the pesto is smooth.

Whole-Grain Freezer Waffles

I recently started a full-time job. With an hour of commute time each day, I knew my meal prep time was going to be disappearing. So, the week before work began I spent time making some muffins, granola bars, pita breads, and waffles for the freezer. I intended to get a lot more frozen than that, but it was a start.

The waffles are delicious and work from freezer to toaster. And this week when I didn’t know what I was going to fix for supper, we enjoyed breakfast for dinner. These are gluten-free, whole-grain, and egg-free!

For the waffles, I used a recipe from my go-to cookbook, Nourishing Meals. First make a batch of dry mix (which keeps in the pantry for up to 4 months, so make as many batches you want!). Then make the waffles. I made a triple batch, which made 26 waffles in my rather small waffle maker.

Gluten-free Waffles

WHOLE-GRAIN FREEZER WAFFLES
(from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
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DRY MIX
1 1/2 c. brown rice flour
1 c. teff flour
1 c. millet flour
1 c. tapioca flour
1/2 c. quinoa flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon (opt.)
1 tsp sea salt

Place all ingredients into a large bowl. Using a wire whisk, mix well. Place into an airtight container. Makes 5 cups or 5 batches of waffles.

WAFFLES
2 Tbsp waffles
2 Tbsp very hot water
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 c. milk (I used almond milk)
1 c. Waffle mix

Place the ground flax seeds and hot water into a medium-sized mixing bowl; quickly whisk together until the flax forms a thick gel. Sometimes this doesn’t happen right away so keep whisking until the gel forms. Add the applesauce, coconut oil, maple syrup, and milk and whisk together well. Then add the waffle mix. Whisk together until the batter is smooth.

Heat waffle maker and cook according to waffle make directions.

If you plan to freeze them, cool completely and then layer between pieces of waxed paper and place in freezer bags.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I found this recipe in The Happy Herbivore cookbook. But as I didn’t notate that information, I’m not for sure. 🙂 I certainly cannot take credit for these. While these aren’t your typical melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies, they are good and a great healthy treat, with no added fat and not too much sugar. Plus, the are gluten-free! They have become our go-to dessert when we need a little sweet fix. Within 30 minutes you can enjoy warm cookies from the oven!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
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1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. non-dairy milk
1 c. gluten-free all purpose flour mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a bowl combine applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and milk. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Pour dry ingredients into wet in three batches, stirring to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes.

Makes 15 cookies.

Gluten-Free Pita Bread

These pita pockets can be made in about 25 minutes. They are dairy-free, egg-free, yeast-free, and gluten-free. And despite all that “free-ness” they are delicious. We enjoy them dipped in hummus, as mini pizza crusts, or as pockets to stuff with veggies for a sandwich.

I have found that these don’t create their own “pockets” very well, which just means I have to cut them open myself, not a big deal to me. I also love that these freeze well, so I often make a double batch and freeze half. I like to freeze some in pocket form and some just whole.

The original recipe calls for using just sorghum flour and sweet rice flour. I have successfully replaced up to a 1/4 cup of the sorghum flour with teff flour or brown rice flour. I also sometimes add some herbs or spices depending on what I plan to use the pitas for (ie adding Italian seasonings when I use them for pizza crusts).

Gluten-Free Pita Bread

GLUTEN-FREE PITA BREAD
(from Nourishing Meals)
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1 1/4 c. warm water
6 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 — 3/4 c. sweet rice flour (in the mountains here I always have to add the larger amount of flour, but start with the lesser amount first)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Herbs or spices, opt.

Preheat the oven to broil/550°F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven, not right underneath the broiler.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the warm water and ground flax seed. Let rest for about 5 minutes to thicken. Then whisk in the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and use a fork to mix together. You should be able to form a ball of dough that is not too sticky or too dry. If the dough is sticky add in extra sweet rice flour (up to the additional 1/4 cup). If the dough is dry, add a little water.

Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces (I’ve done 6 smaller pitas or 4 larger pitas too, depending on what I’m using them for). Using wet hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball and then flatten with your hands until they are 5-6 inch circles. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet. If you’re using a large baking sheet, you should be able to fit all the pitas on there (they don’t spread much). Otherwise use two baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping each pita after 6 minutes. The pitas bubble slightly and get golden around the edges when done. After they are cooled, slice them in half and cut the bread to form a pocket.

If not using right away, layer these between waxed paper and store in a sealed container. Or freeze.

Savory Spiced Nuts

Nuts are a staple snack in our house. In the interest of health, I’ve been avoiding buying the pre-roasted, salted varieties. So, I buy raw nuts and toast and spice them myself. This is our favorite savory spiced nut recipe thus far. It’s also quite easy as it’s all made on the stovetop. Once completely cooled, store the nuts in a glass jar.

Savory Spiced Nuts

SAVORY SPICED NUTS
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1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. raw walnuts
1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add all the spices and stir to make a paste. Add almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds and stir to coat evenly. Continue stirring the nuts, toasting until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool in the pan.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

In our quest for new vegetarian main dishes, my creativity is being pushed into high gear. Very frequently I turn to Alissa Segersten’s two cookbooks, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. Every recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. A plus for me is that the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, and some are also egg-free. (If you have a chance to peruse her cookbooks through the library, I’d strongly suggest you do. There are plenty of non-vegetarian recipes in there as well.)

Last night I tried my hand at making vegetarian enchiladas from Nourishing Meals. I did make several changes to the recipe, but the essence of it doesn’t belong to me. I love enchiladas and these were delicious! The made-from-scratch enchilada sauce is incredibly tasty and not too labor intensive. While topping them with cheese would be amazing, we just went the route of guacamole (my husband is sensitive to dairy, so we in general avoid it).

Vegetarian Enchiladas

VEGETARIAN ENCHILADAS
(adapted from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
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Sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1/4 c. arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Enchiladas:
12 to 16 corn tortillas (I used only 12)
2 c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes (feel free to spice these with your favorite Mexican spices)
3 c. cooked black beans
2 c. baby spinach leaves

Guacamole for topping

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

To make the enchilada sauce, heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, jalapeno, and bell pepper; saute for 7 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, spices, and salt; saute a few minutes more. Then add the water and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour sauce into a blender, add arrowroot power or cornstarch; blend until smooth.

To make the enchiladas, first be sure to heat up each tortilla so they are pliable for filling and rolling. Lightly grease a hot skillet; heat each tortilla for about 10 seconds on each side. You can fill one enchilada while the next tortilla is heating. Add a few small spoonfuls of mashed sweet potato, then beans, and finally a small handful of spinach leaves. Roll tightly and place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, pushing the filled enchiladas closely together. Once the pan is filled, top with the sauce. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Garnish with guacamole.

Compote, Cake, and Custard

A trip to the farmer’s market this morning yielded strawberries, asparagus, and rhubarb all sure signs of spring and the coming summer! I’ve been an anti-rhubarb girl for as long as I can remember, but I decided this year to give it a try. Spring is a wonderful time to try something new as fresh fruits and veggies are once again making their seasonal appearances so they are at their peak flavor.

And so, after a long work week, I decided to spend my Saturday afternoon in the kitchen. Inspired by the fresh produce, as well as several blogs I follow, I got busy.

First up was a gluten-free lemon sponge cake recipe courtesy of Cannelle et Vanille. The ingredient list was simple and I thought it would be perfect with some lightly sweetened, sliced strawberries. The end result wasn’t as lemony as I’d expected, but it is still delicious.

Next, I tackled my rhubarb, making a simple compote that I figured I could spoon over the sponge cake, eat with yogurt or vanilla pudding. I used the basic recipe from Simple Bites. While I’m not yet in love with rhubarb, I did enjoy this easy dish and I hope to try out a few other rhubarb recipes.

Finally, I decided since I didn’t have any whipping cream on hand, that a nice vanilla pudding would the perfect conclusion to my afternoon kitchen dabbling. I followed the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, though sadly I didn’t have any vanilla beans, so vanilla extract it was for me. How can you go wrong with pudding? It will be delicious with any of my other creations.

I hope you too are being inspired by fresh, spring produce.

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

We love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! We don’t eat them often because I’m anti-all the garbage additives. So, I thought I’d give this refined sugar-free recipe a try (unlike usual, I followed the original without any alterations). While they aren’t Reese’s, per se, they are sweet, peanutty and chocolatey, all good things! 🙂 With coconut oil in the ingredient list, these definitely have coconut undertones, if that’s not your thing, you could try butter and see how that works. If you want a thicker layer of chocolate (I think I might), just double the ingredients for the chocolate layer. I hope you enjoy!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUP
(from lifemadewhole.com)
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For peanut butter layer:
3/4 c. natural peanut butter
1/4 c. coconut oil
2 Tbsp raw honey

For chocolate layer:
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp raw honey

For the peanut butter layer: Line mini-muffin pan with papers. Melt the coconut oil, then mix together with the peanut butter and honey. Carefully pour into prepared pan. Place in the freezer while preparing the chocolate.

For the chocolate layer: Melt the coconut oil and butter together. Add the cocoa powder and the honey. Stir until smooth. Remove the pan from the freezer and evenly pour the chocolate into each cup. Freeze for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Store in the fridge or freezer. Makes about 24.

Carrot Cake Bites

It’s time for another no-bake healthy treat recipe…

For my 5th birthday I requested carrot cake for my dessert. It’s been a standby ever since. (Though I’m sorely disappointed if I ever encounter carrot cake that has raisins lurking inside!) I have to admit to loving the cream cheese frosting that is the usual accompaniment and adds to my all-around love of the cake.  It’s been months, maybe even a couple of years since I’ve eaten a slice of my beloved carrot cake, so I was intrigued by this recipe for raw carrot cake balls I stumbled across on Pinterest. These are cream cheese frosting free, but I still thought worth sampling.

These don’t taste exactly like carrot cake, but they certainly are reminiscent and they are both tasty and healthy little morsels that make you feel like you’re getting a treat. So, they come with my recommendations. I did tweak the original recipe by adding nuts and spices. I’m sure coconut and perhaps a little nutmeg would be good as well. And maybe if you want to go really fancy, you can make a sweet cream cheese dip. 🙂

CARROT CAKE BITES
(adapted from gracefulfitnessblog.com)
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10 dates
small handful raw walnuts
1 c. gluten-free rolled oats
1 medium carrot, finely grated
zest from one lemon
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon
dash of ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
finely chopped walnuts for rolling, opt.

Rough chop the dates and walnuts and then put them in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until date pieces are about the size of raisins.

Add the oats and process until the oats are ground.

Add grated carrot, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and process until the ‘dough’ comes together in a ball. If it seems a little dry, add a few drops of water and process again.

Use clean hands to form into balls. Roll in chopped walnuts, if desired and store in the fridge. Makes 12-15 balls.