Smart Cookie

3 Comments

2017-04-05 15.41.04

I’ve been trying to come up with a cookie that has as few allergens as possible that still kicks the sweet craving and of course, tastes good. It’s not as easy as you may think to remove most of the things that make a cookie, a cookie and have it turn out like well…a cookie!

I’ve made numerous attempts that ended up being “okay”.  More attempts that ended up in the garbage.

This cookie only took two experiments of ingredient tweaking, tastes fantastic (even got two very big thumbs up from the husband) and because it only makes 12 cookies, I didn’t waste too much on the first attempt, so I’d call that a win.

2017-04-05 15.16.58

I was being a little lazy because I actually didn’t think the recipe would work so I didn’t even bother getting the good camera out. These pictures are all from my phone, which really don’t do the cookies justice.

These cookies are grain free, dairy free, egg free, nut free, organic, and free of refined sugar.

2017-04-05 15.40.58

Smart Cookie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees/Makes 12 Cookies

1/3 Cup of Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil

3 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Sugar

1/3 Cup of Organic Sweet Potato Flour

3 Tablespoons of Organic Arrowroot

3 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Flour

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

2 teaspoons of Organic Pure Almond Extract

2 Tbs of Organic 100% Full Fat Coconut Milk

1/3 Cup Organic Dried Cherries, roughly chopped

About 1/2 Cup of melted chocolate (I use Theo’s Organic 70% Dark)

Beat the coconut oil until it is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the coconut sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the arrowroot, coconut flour, and sea salt and do the same. Add the almond extract and coconut milk and beat until smooth scraping down the sides. Fold in the dried cherries.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly roll cookies into balls and place on parchment. Pat down with fingertips into small circles.

Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely.

While cookies are baking melt the chocolate. Place a piece of parchment over a cooling rack. Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate, lightly shake off excess. Place on parchment and allow to set. If you want them to set quickly, place them in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Grain Free Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting

Leave a comment

2017-02-07-13-39-24-1

I keep telling people that having food allergies does not mean the end of the world. With a bit of thought and planning, there are numerous exciting options for those of us with restricted diets.

2017-02-07-07-27-05-1

2017-02-07-12-33-07

Most newbies who find out they have food allergies or sensitivities are completely freaked out. They’re so accustomed to eating a certain way and feeding their families a certain way that they become instantly overwhelmed with even the thought of changing their eating habits let alone the habits of their picky family members.

2017-02-07-12-35-15

They cannot fathom following an allergen free diet and going from fast food and packaged foods to a whole foods, allergen free, diet. Even if it means feeling better!

2017-02-07-12-38-10

2017-02-07-12-38-28

Truth be told, we all have that battle until we realize what’s at stake. If we continue eating things that don’t agree with us, the issues build and build until we’re faced with more severe illness issues like autoimmune disease, obesity, ulcers, migraines, hormone imbalances, mood disorders, sleep disorders, and more.

2017-02-07-13-12-36

2017-02-07-13-13-16

One of my inadvertent jobs while working in a naturopathic clinic years ago was to talk people off the cliff after they were told what they could no longer eat.

2017-02-07-13-18-29

Like a deer in the headlights they were stunned. They didn’t know where to begin, they were worried about the time and effort it would take, didn’t think they could do it, thought they would starve, and the grumpier more feisty ones thought they’d never be able to eat anything “fun” again.

2017-02-07-13-24-08

I often reminded them that they were at the doctor’s office because their life was anything but “fun”. Most of them had severe health issues. We find comfort in repetition even if it’s not good for us. Changing the patterns of how we eat and how we treat our bodies can be very stressful at first but it goes away quickly and the pay off is HUGE.

2017-02-07-13-23-12

Once the allergens are removed and the body has a chance to begin to heal instead of spending all of its energy on battling gut issues, histamine issues, and inflammation, people are amazed because they had forgotten what GOOD feels like. We get used to a certain level of “sick” and that becomes life. When we remove the things that are holding us back and we go up to the next level and then the next and so on, to where we are eventually feeling well, then the effort to maintain an allergen free healthier lifestyle, pays off and reminds us that it is indeed worth “it”.

2017-02-07-13-33-52-1

I blog because I like to prove that changing your diet IS worth it, that YOU and your health are worth a little extra research and time, and also to dispel the myths that living an allergen free life is too limiting and not enjoyable.

2017-02-07-18-38-16

We eat allergen free and very well in our house. We never feel deprived! I have hundreds of recipes to choose from not only on my own food blog but from other very talented allergen free bloggers.

Don’t allow the dread of change to overcome the importance of living a lifestyle that helps you be the healthiest you can be. Take the time to invest in yourself.

You are worth it.

2017-02-07-18-38-33-1

Grain Free Chocolate Cake with Dairy Free Fudge Frosting

*This recipe is adapted from Satisfying Eats

Preheat oven to 350°

1 Cup of  Coconut Flour

3/4 Cup of  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 Cups of Coconut Sugar

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

2 teaspoons of Baking Soda

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

8  Eggs

1/2 Cup of Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free Butter

3 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup + 1/2 Cup of Organic Full Fat Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup of Strong Brewed Decaf Coffee

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Chocolate Chips or Chopped Dairy Free Dark Chocolate

About 8-10 Oz of Smucker’s Simply Fruit Raspberry Jelly for filling

Add the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk together. Add the eggs, butter, vanilla, coffee, and 1 Cup of the coconut milk. Mix on medium to blend well, scraping down sides. Let the batter rest while you’re getting the cake pans ready (Spray and line with parchment paper). Add the 1/2 Cup of coconut milk and mix on medium just until combined.

Pour evenly into two 8-9 inch cake rounds, two 8×8 square baking pans, or two 12 hole cupcake pans. If you’re going to make cupcakes, be sure to spray the paper liners.

Bake for 22-28 minutes. (I use convection, conventional ovens may vary.) Cool completely in the pan before removing.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

3/4 Cup Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free Butter

3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar (You can also use homemade coconut sugar powdered sugar, but it will be a heavier, more moist, consistency)

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Almond Extract

3-4 Tablespoons of Full Fat Coconut Milk

About 1 1/2 teaspoons Instant Decaf Espresso

Pour the coconut milk in a measuring cup and add the instant espresso granules, stir to combine. Set aside and allow the espresso to dissolve.

Cream the butter in a mixer until it is light and fluffy, scraping down sides once or twice. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and almond extract. Mix on lowest setting (so you don’t end up with a cloud of powdered sugar and cocoa powder over your whole kitchen) until mixture starts to come together.

2017-02-07-12-53-50

2017-02-07-12-54-30

 With the mixture on medium, SLOWLY add the coconut milk coffee mixture, 1 Tablespoon at a time (keeping an eye on the consistency…not too soft!) scraping down the bowl once or twice in between. I like a thick, rich, frosting…if you want that too, you may not need all of the milk. Once the coconut milk has been added, beat on medium for 3 minutes until it expands and becomes fluffy.

2017-02-07-12-57-44

Raspberry Sweetheart Cookies

2 Comments

2017-02-05-15-35-52

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! 

2017-02-05-14-28-46

Whether you have a honey to celebrate with or not, you need these cookies in your life.

2017-02-05-14-54-12

2017-02-05-15-12-15

I consider them one of those special “once a year” treats. 

2017-02-05-15-12-59

2017-02-05-15-18-39

Of course, they go well with anything. What cookie doesn’t? After any meal, with a cup of tea or coffee, or as your afternoon treat.

You’re worth it! 

2017-02-05-15-23-26

And as always with my recipes, they are not complicated to make. I like simple, delicious, beautiful food. It should taste as wonderful as it looks and be satisfying all around. 

2017-02-05-15-33-51

You won’t be disappointed. 

2017-02-05-15-34-06-1

Happy Valentine’s Day! xo

Raspberry Sweetheart Cookies

*Dough will need to be chilled before baking

2/3 Cup Dairy Free Butter ( I use soy free Earth Balance)

2/3 cup Vegetable Shortening ( I use Spectrum)

4 cups of Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour plus more for rolling (In your local gluten free isle or online. I cannot rave enough about this flour!)

2 Eggs

1 1/2 Cups of Sugar (White or Coconut…coconut will make your cookies brown)

2 Tbsps. of Almond Milk (Could also use rice, coconut, or hemp.)

2 tsp. of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 1/2 tsp. of Xanthan Gum

2 tsp. of Pure Vanilla

1/2 tsp. of Sea Salt

Raspberry Jelly

Powdered Sugar Frosting (Powdered sugar, dairy free butter, pure almond extract, and a tiny bit of water or milk)

Beat butter and shortening in mixer until light and fluffy. Add about half the flour, the eggs, sugar, milk, baking powder, xanthan gum, vanilla, and salt. Beat until thoroughly combined and beat in remaining flour. Divide dough in half and place on plastic wrap. Press into discs, cover completely, and chill for at least 2 hours. This dough will last in the fridge for several days and I also like to wrap it well and freeze it to have on hand. It will last for months in the freezer. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

After the dough has chilled remove one disc out of the fridge at a time. Flour your surface and roll out. Cut into shapes of your liking and place them on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the edges are just slightly beginning to turn golden. 

Cool completely. Add about 1 teaspoon of jelly to each cookie and top with another cookie. Drizzle with powdered sugar frosting. 

2017-02-05-15-36-27

Cherry Chocolate Crisps

5 Comments

2017-01-27-15-03-03-1

Cherry Chocolate Crisps

*Makes about 26

10 oz Bag of Enjoy Life Miniature Chocolate Chips (dairy free)

3/4 Cup of Tart Dried Cherries

1 Cup of Gluten Free Rice Chex Cereal

Mini Candy Cups

Melt the chocolate and stir in the dried cherries. Fold in the cereal and drop by teaspoon into miniature paper cups.  Allow to set. Store at room temperature. 

2017-01-27-14-12-00

2017-01-27-15-07-58

Mini Peanut Butter Cups

1 Comment

2017-01-27-14-47-57

I don’t know where 2016 went but here we are almost into February of a new year. Valentine’s Day will be here before we know it!

2017-01-27-13-10-25

I am used to making my own treats because of food allergies and I prefer home made. I like that I know exactly what’s in the food I eat and the food I give as gifts.

2017-01-27-13-14-38

There are so many different types of candy that you can make easily and with minimal ingredients.

2017-01-27-13-15-17

Homemade candies also make really sweet and thoughtful gifts.

2017-01-27-13-20-23

These peanut butter cups only take a few minutes (not counting the chilling time for layers) and would be a great project for kids too.

2017-01-27-13-20-55

You can do any nut butter you like, add mini chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts…the options are all up to you.

2017-01-27-13-57-08

I’ll post another simple candy recipe tomorrow.

2017-01-27-15-05-54

Peanut Butter Cups

*Makes 34

1 1/4 Cups of Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter (no stir)

1/3 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar

4 Bars (3oz each) Organic 70% Dark Chocolate

34 Mini Candy Cups

In a double boiler or a pan with a bowl over the top (which is how I do it), melt the chocolate. In a small bowl combine the peanut butter and sugar and soften in the microwave for 20 seconds (you can also do it in a pan if you don’t use a microwave).

Spread out the candy cups on a cookie tray, this will make it easy to move them to the fridge or outside to chill between layers.

Drop a small amount of chocolate in the bottom of each cup and chill until set. Then drop a dollop of the peanut butter mixture into each cup. Tap the tray lightly on the counter until the peanut butter levels out (doesn’t have to be perfect). Chill for 20 minutes. Drop a small amount of chocolate on top of each cup and swirl to cover the top. Chill until set and store in fridge in an airtight container.

Not So Simple Hot Chocolate Spoons

6 Comments

2016-12-12-14-30-38

Actually, they are very simple.

Just don’t do what I did and you’ll be fine.

It seems that my knee injury has made its way up to my brain because the whole last week has been a comedy of errors.

2016-12-10-11-38-06

First there were paint issues on another Christmas project…which I still have to repair. Then label issues. A list of forgotten ingredients for another project and trips to the store. Not one but two slips down the stairs…call me grace.  My knee is fine thank goodness.

2016-12-10-11-41-10-1

As if that wasn’t enough, I lost the ingredients list to one of the items I made and for the life of me, I cannot remember what I put in it. Wouldn’t you know it that the day I figured out the list had been tossed, the garbage truck was already driving out of the neighborhood.

The first time I tried to make the spoons, the chocolate set up too quickly because I set it outside in 20 degree weather and I couldn’t get the spoons into it…

2016-12-10-11-50-40

Then, trying to remedy the frozen bricks of chocolate,  I reheated it to start over and I burned it

…but wait, there’s more.

I was then out of chocolate and had to go back to the store, just to burn another batch of chocolate because I sat down and was distracted trying to figure out what I put in that gift that has the missing ingredients list.

I kept an eagle eye on that third batch of chocolate believe me…but…I slit the plastic wrap and slid the spoons in, when in reality to avoid a plastic wrap nightmare removal after full set up, I probably should have removed the plastic wrap prior to putting the spoons in the chocolate.

2016-12-12-13-39-05

Lastly, as I was wrapping the cute mugs I flipped them over to read on the bottom “Not Microwave Safe”. Now I’ll have to warn the recipients, thereby shattering the illusion that I know what the hell I’m doing.

At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I should just stop. Just throw caution to the wind, open a bottle of wine, and crawl into the bathtub.

Instead, I gave myself a pep talk. “You can do this. A first grader can make this project for gawd’s sake. Get a hold of yourself woman!”

I’m not one to let a challenge defeat me.

Instead, I self medicated with a lot of chocolate and marshmallows.

2016-12-12-14-02-56

Luckily for you, if you have your head on straight, this is an extremely simple and fun  project and works really great as cute little gifts.

2016-12-12-14-05-10

Now all my projects are finished (hallelujah and amen) and I’ll be sharing each one with you over the next several days.

2016-12-12-14-08-25

Note to self for next year:

Go to Fiji instead.

2016-12-12-14-23-24

Simple Hot Chocolate Spoons

*The amounts are based on enough for 4 Mugs*

12 oz or so of Your Favorite Chocolate

Cube Candy Trays or Ice Cube Trays (ice-cube trays will require more chocolate)

4 Mugs

16 Wooden Spoons (I found mind at a craft store)

Mini Marshmallows

12 Clear (or decorated, your choice) Long Cellophane bags, you will cut them to size

Different Types Of Ribbon For Decorating

2 Types of Card Stock, Photo Sticky Mounting Squares, and a Hole Punch For Hot Chocolate Directions (below)

Craft Scissors or a Paper Cutter

For the spoons:

*Don’t take your eyes off the chocolate!

Melt the chocolate until smooth and spoon carefully into the trays. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the trays and place them in a cool place for 5 minutes. Set a timer! Check them after 5 minutes, if they are still really soft to the touch, then allow them to set for another 5 minutes. You want the spoon to be able to slide into the chocolate but also have the chocolate set up enough that the spoon will stand on its own. Remove the plastic wrap, slide a spoon into the middle of each one and return to a cold place to set completely.

Fill four bags with a handful of marshmallows. Tie off with ribbon and cut the bag to size leaving a bit of fluff at the top so it looks nice. Cut four more bags using one of the spoons as a measurement. You want the handles to stick out, but still have plenty of plastic to tie a ribbon around. Place 4 Chocolate spoons in a bag, tie with a ribbon, and repeat the process for the spoons and the marshmallows for all four mugs.

The chocolate spoons won’t fit in the mug unless you buy very over sized mugs. Place the mugs in the cellophane bags, place the marshmallows in the mugs, and tie the bags around the mugs closed with a ribbon. My mugs were over sized but not huge and the chocolate was too large to fit inside the mug even without the marshmallows so I will simply package them next to the mug in a nice gift bag or box.

2016-12-13-13-30-46

For the tags I just printed out instructions on shimmery white card stock, cut them into squares, and placed them on a red sheet of card stock. Punch a hole and thread a ribbon and tie it to the cup.

2016-12-13-13-30-53

Grain Free & Dairy Free Gingerbread Trifle

3 Comments

_dsc4225

Well hello there. Did you think I’d disappeared? Maybe just a little.

_dsc4184

I’ve been working on creating some fabulous treats for your holidays. Also, I had a bit of a freak injury.

_dsc4187

_dsc4188

While walking our dogs, Abigail our 45 pounder ran full speed into the side of my knee. I have what they call a moderate tear in my MCL. Of course I was a mile and a half from the car and had to walk back because when I reached into my pocket to call our son, my phone had died. It was one of those days.

_dsc4191

_dsc4192

I’m in week three now and am seeing a bit of improvement. Three more more weeks with a hideous and cumbersome brace, along with physical therapy twice a week until January.

_dsc4193

In January I’ll see the orthopedist and will hopefully be feeling much, much, improved.

_dsc4194

It’s been an interesting lesson in patience for me. After being sick the majority of the last 9 years of my life, I was feeling pretty darn good and was finally able to begin to get some real exercise and begin building back muscle strength and endurance. Then…the mishap.

_dsc4199

Good lessons in waiting and taking life slowly are being learned.

Thankfully I have a husband who is being very helpful. I can move more now but the first two weeks were rough and being someone who prides herself in having a high pain tolerance…wow, I was in for a surprise.

_dsc4205

Now that I’m able to move around a bit more without as much pain, I’m back in the kitchen. Between now and Christmas I’ll be sharing a few creations that you’ll hopefully find as exciting as I do.

_dsc4217

Like this grain free, dairy free, gingerbread. I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of this recipe. It took a couple tries to get it to where I considered it, perfect. Perfect texture, perfect moisture content, and perfect flavor. We’ve been eating gingerbread for days and I haven’t heard one complaint.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

xoxo ~ Gluten Free Zen

Grain Free Dairy Free Gingerbread Trifle

For The Cranberry Sauce:

2 Bags of Fresh Cranberries 8 oz each

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/4 Cup Water

Simmer the cranberries until cooked down and thickened. Refrigerate until completely chilled.

For The Gingerbread:

1 1/4 Cups of Coconut Flour

3/4 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

1 1/2 Cups of Coconut Sugar

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

2 teaspoons of Baking Soda

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ground Ginger

1 teaspoon of Ground Cloves

6 Eggs

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Soy Free Butter

2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup of Unsulphured Molasses

1 Cup of 100% Full Fat Coconut Milk (I use ArroyD)

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I use convection so cooking time mary vary) Spray two 8×8 square pans with non stick spray and set aside. This can also be made in 1 8 1/1 x 11 pan or two 8-9 inch round pans.

Measure dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter (cool not cold), and the remaining wet ingredients. Whisk thoroughly until fluffy and combined.

Divide evenly and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely.

For The Whipped Cream:

I use chilled Arroy D full fat 100% coconut milk. Tip: I keep four boxes (1 cup each) in my fridge at all times. Pour the chilled coconut milk in a heavy duty mixture with the whisk attachment and whisk until thick and fluffy. Then add powdered sugar and vanilla to your liking and continue to whip until thickened. Coconut whipped cream holds up very well in the fridge for 24 hours. The coconut milk will separate to the bottom a bit, but just simply pour it off.

Layer the trifle and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. I used mini trifle dishes but this  gingerbread recipe will easily make a full trifle. The only thing I would do is add one more bag of cranberries and another 1/2 cup of  sugar to the cranberry sauce while simmering.