Gluten Free Banana Bread

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2016-07-14 08.21.20The majority of the time, I’m grain free. But every now and then, I venture out and eat gluten free grains. You can make grain free banana bread too, and I’m sure somewhere out there someone has a recipe that you’ll love…but I have yet to find or create a grain free recipe that I love.

I made this banana bread with Mama’s Coconut Blend Flour and it was absolutely delicious. The flour is a blend of coconut, tapioca, potato starch, and rice flours. It had perfect texture, it was beautifully moist, held together well, and I was able to bake it in a normal bread pan rather than my tiny bread pan made for grain free breads.

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When you bake with gluten free grains, things come out fluffy and cushy and light. Most grain free baked items are a heavier and more temperamental. I’m not used to being able to make bread in a normal sized bread pan and have it rise over the top. That was a treat in itself!

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Of course, actually eating the banana bread warm with lots of dairy free butter was the real treat.

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

2 Cups of Mama’s Coconut Blencond Flour

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Ground cinnamon

4 eggs

3 Very Ripe Large Bananas

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/3 Cup of Avocado Oil

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×5 in loaf pan generously with coconut oil and set aside.

Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl whisk all of the wet ingredients and the sugar together until fully incorporated. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and fold gently, just until combined and dry ingredients are fully incorporated.

Bake for 40 minutes. (I use convection)

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Life Is Too Short Not To Eat Onion Rings

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It turns out that I’m not the only one that needs an onion ring every now and then. For those of us who can’t eat gluten and dairy, craving breaded fried foods can pose a problem. As you already know, that’s my goal here on this blog. Proving to people that an allergen free life doesn’t have to be boring and restrictive. While it may be a problem finding these types of foods when you’re eating out, it’s not a problem if you’re willing to make them at home.

Sometimes, it’s just necessary to eat comfort food and enjoy an onion ring…or 10. It’s as simple as that. Just like every now and then, I need a piece of cake for breakfast…but that’s a story for another time.

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I hadn’t planned on posting this so I don’t have any prep or process photos and the photos I do have are lacking excitement…or so I thought. I posted a couple pictures of last night’s dinner on my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page and on Instagram and received a few messages asking for the recipe. It’s a pretty simple recipe. There’s a few steps involved, but once you get that down, making them at home is worth every. single. bite.

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Gluten Free Dairy Free Onion Rings

*You’ll need a dutch oven or deep fryer and a deep fry/candy thermometer, 2 baking sheets lined with parchment or tin foil if you don’t want an oily mess, and 2 cooling racks that will fit on top of the baking sheets. You will also need a large slotted spoon or tongs.

50.7 ounces of Avocado Oil (About 1 1/2 bottles of Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil, I buy mine at Costco)

5 Medium to Large Sweet Onions (Peeled and sliced save middles for something else)

3 plus 1 Cups of All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I used Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour Blend)

3 Tablespoons of Arrowroot

3 teaspoons of Garlic Powder

1  Tablespoon of Sea Salt plus more for sprinkling

1 1/2 teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper

3 teaspoons of Bragg’s Seasoning

2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free Beer (I used Green’s Amber Ale the dark ale would work well too)

1 Cup of Perrier (or any sparkling mineral water)

1 Large Egg

Pour the oil into the dutch oven, insert the thermometer, turn the burner on medium or slightly higher,  and heat to between 325-350 degrees. This will take some time.

(It’s easiest if you set up an ingredients “station” right next to the stove top.)

While the oil is heating measure the flour, arrowroot, garlic, sea salt, cayenne, Bragg’s, and sugar into a large bowl or baking dish. Whisk to combine. Reserve 1 cup of the flour mixture in a bowl and set aside. Dredge all of the onion slices in the larger amount of flour mixture and set aside on a paper towel or plate.

In a medium bowl combine the beer, sparkling water, and egg. Pour into the larger mixture of flour and whisk to combine.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and place the prepared baking sheets in the oven.

Once the oil reaches temperature:

Remove the thermometer. Take an onion and dip in the liquid flour mix, then dredge quickly in the smaller dry reserved flour mix, dip quickly one more time into the liquid mix and then put into the oil. Repeat with 6-7 slices at a time but don’t overcrowd. I let the oil heat up a bit more between each wave of onions. The onion rings won’t brown as much as traditional onion rings. Allow to cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, depending on how thick the onion slices are. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs onto the racks and season with more sea salt. Try a piece (or two) from the first batch and see if they’re crispy to your liking, then you can adjust the cooking time from there. Keep warm in the oven. Serve as soon as all the onions are done.

Dipping Sauce:

Olive oil mayo, ketchup, and sriracha. I use about 1/2 C of mayo, 1/4 C of ketchup, and a generous squeeze of sriracha. Amount will depend on how seasoned you like yours and how many people you’re feeding.

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Grain Free Pizza

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2016-04-21 18.42.10

We are pizza fanatics.

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I’m just going to be up front with you and say that my pizza…is my favorite. 

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We try gluten free pizza often when we go out. In Seattle, in Idaho, in our hometown…but honestly, nothing compares so far to what we make at  home. 

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For some reason, restaurants can’t think out of the Udi’s pizza crust box. Every single time we spend $20 or more each on a gluten free pizza meal at a restaurant, I cannot wrap my mind around how a chef or restaurant owner would be OK grabbing an Udi’s pizza crust out of the freezer and serving it to their customers. Blows. My. Mind.

It’s dull. It’s flavorless. It is as exciting as cardboard on your plate. And don’t even get me started on the tasteless pepperoni, and overcooked sausage. Or the fact that none of these restaurants (even high end) understand that there is a readily available (even locally made!) vast assortment of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses other than the same old stand by, feta.

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Every time we eat pizza out, my husband and I spend a large part of our mealtime talking about how we would run a restaurant. From the quality and type of food we would serve, how we would treat our staff, and most importantly, how we would treat our customers. We are serious about customer service and all it entails.

One can dream.

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Last weekend we had high hopes for a little local restaurant we found. Outdoor seating (my favorite), smells of fabulous wood fired pizza…turns out, the server and the person making the pizza, weren’t educated about the ingredients in their gluten free crust, or in the pepperoni or their sausage…or even their sauce! We opted out of the meal. I choked down a really bad glass of Riesling and we moved on.

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This time however, instead of just opting out, I explained to the server why we decided to eat elsewhere. I told her that it’s my opinion that the servers and the people preparing the food should be well versed with what’s actually in their food. As a person with food allergies, I take a chance every time I eat out. I know that’s my responsibility, but a restaurant with knowledgeable servers and staff, makes me a repeat customer. She ended up being very kind about it, apologetic, and said she would speak to the owner about the entire restaurant becoming better educated. I was happy with her response. We tipped her and left and who knows, maybe in a few months we’ll give them another chance.  

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Pizza doesn’t have to be complicated for it to taste amazing. I’m all about easy food! Easy or not though, it has to taste fabulous, be a treat for the eyes, and have high quality ingredients. You can use crust mixes or come up with your own crust recipe, but either way, make it unique with all of things you love. 

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I like to use Chebe Foccacia Bread mix as my base. I add a little of this and a little of that, and before you know it, it makes the perfect pizza crust. It’s soft like “regular” pizza crust with crispy crust edges, has great flavor, and gets rave reviews every single time I make it. 

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Chebe mixes are gluten free, soy free, corn free, rice free, potato free, yeast free, peanut free, tree nut free, egg free, lactose/casein free, iodine free, sugar free, non GMO, and kosher certified.

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Grain Free Pizza

*Makes two 13″ pizzas

2 Boxes of Chebe Focaccia Mix

6 Tablespoons of Non Filtered Organic Olive Oil

4 Large Organic Eggs

1 Cup of Filtered Water

1 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano

1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Basil

1 Tablespoon of Organic Garlic Powder

1 Can of Organic Tomato Paste

1/4 Cup of Vegan Pesto 

1/2 Cup of Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese, grated

3 Other Types of Cow Free Cheeses About 1 1/2 to 2 Cups of Each (We used two types of goat mozzarella – low moisture and Brazilian Breakfast and a Dutch Style goat cheese that is similar to sharp white cheddar), grated

About 3 Handfuls of Organic Baby Spinach

1 Organic Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced thinly

About 1/3 of a Medium Organic Red Onion, sliced thinly

About 8-10 Large Organic Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

1/2 lb. of Gluten Free, Dairy Free Pepperoni (We have Applegate sliced at the deli)

4 Gluten Free, Dairy Free Hot Italian Sausages (also purchased at our deli)

Avocado Oil

1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano

Arrowroot or other GF flour for dusting hands, dough, and rolling pin.

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. Line two pizza pans with parchment. I lay it on top and cut it in a circle. Nothing fancy.  Set aside.
  2. Empty the hot Italian sausage from their casings and lightly brown in a medium pan with a little avocado oil. Drain on paper towels if necessary.
  3. Empty both Chebe mixes into a medium bowl. Measure in the oil, add the eggs, water, herbs, sea salt, and garlic powder. Stir with a fork until all the ingredients come together. 
  4. With floured hands, knead the dough until ingredients are fully incorporated and the dough is mostly smooth. Cut the dough in half and set each half on the parchment paper. (Remove the paper from the pans to make rolling easier.) Pat out each mound into a small circle, flour rolling pin and top of dough and roll to the edges of the paper. You can leave the edges as is, roll them up a bit for a thicker end crust, or crimp them. Whatever you like.
  5. Slide the parchment and pizza crusts back onto the pizza pans and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Spread the tomato paste – half a can each, (I use the back of a spoon) around each crust all the way to the edges. Do the same with the vegan pesto.
  7.  Sprinkle each crust with the Daiya cheese. Then sprinkle the oregano on both crusts.
  8.  Next, top both crusts with the peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
  9. Choose one of your 3 remaining cheeses and sprinkle over the mushrooms.
  10. Add the sausage to both crusts. Then the remaining two cheeses. Then the pepperoni.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Baked Potato, Spinach, & Egg Scramble

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2016-04-19 09.55.01

I am an early riser. Usually around 4:30 but no later than 5:30.

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This morning I wasn’t hungry when it was time for breakfast so instead, I waited until about 10:30 to have breakfast when I would normally be craving a mid morning snack.

So I was starving.

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Something weird is still going on with my stomach. I think I told you about all of the oysters and other seafood I ate while we were in Seattle a few weeks ago. I really miss all the fresh seafood we had living on the east coast. So…while in Seattle, I went a little overboard.

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I came home very sick and it lasted about a week. Now, a few times a day I’m still getting some strange stomach twinges. It’s messing with my love of food. I’ll have to increase the curcumin I’m taking I guess and the kefir to kill off any unwanted creatures hiding out in my gut. My husband is experiencing something similar.

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Needless to say, it hasn’t completely hampered my overall appetite for all foodie lover type things. Like big breakfasts. And this one has potato in it which is a special treat for me. I try not to eat them too often as they are high on the inflammatory scale.

The next time you make baked potatoes, bake a couple extra and put them in the fridge. They keep for several days. I used one in this scramble and it was delicious. I also like to use them for potato pancakes. When I bake my potatoes I lay it on a square of foil and drizzle avocado oil, sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt, and any other seasonings I like. I do this because I love the skins. Baking them this way makes for a very tasty baked potato with dinner or a very tasty baked potato breakfast!

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Baked Potato, Spinach, & Egg Scramble

*The majority of our diet is organic so while I don’t always list the food in my recipes as organic, it almost always is. It’s a good idea and a healthy way to live to strive to eat organic as much as possible. Potatoes are very high on the pesticide list, and don’t even get em started on the health issues concerning conventional eggs.

*This would probably feed two people a light breakfast.

1 Leftover Seasoned Baked Potato, cubed

About 2 Tablespoons of Diced Red Onion

1 Clove of Garlic, diced

About Two Handfuls of Baby Spinach

2 Eggs

Avocado Oil

Drizzle a little avocado oil in a medium skillet. Saute the potatoes until they begin to brown and add the onion and garlic and continue cooking. Add the spinach and toss until the spinach is wilted. Scoot the potato and spinach mixture to one side of the pan. Drizzle a little more avocado oil and add eggs. Scramble the eggs and toss with the potato and spinach.

Grain Free & Dairy Free Dinner Rolls

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What’s the first thing you crave when you have to go gluten free or grain free?

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Bread, of course.

I think it’s human nature.

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Not only do we want what we can’t have, but bread is comfort food. It pretty much has love and grandma’s house written all over it.

It goes with almost anything, it’s satisfying, and it makes your house smell amazing.

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Living on salads and meat on the Paleo diet or any grain free diet gets boring very quickly. When we’re bored with our food we do naughty things like eat foods that aren’t good for us.

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It’s my opinion, and the reason why I started this food blog, that people with food allergies should be able to enjoy foods like they always have.

Which includes bread.

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The only difference is that the foods we enjoy now don’t make us sick. They’re healthy for our bodies and don’t contain all of the fillers and preservatives and other unhealthy things we’ve eaten in the past.

I love these dinner rolls because they aren’t just designated to dinner. I use them for hamburger buns, sandwich buns, I cut them in half and toast them, and in the next couple of days, I’m going to show you something  extra special to make with them.

See you soon!

Grain Free & Dairy Free “Dinner” Rolls

*Makes about 15 rolls

2/3 Cup of Arrowroot

1 1/2 Cups of Sweet Potato Flour

1 Cup of Coconut Flour

4 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum

4 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Sea Salt

2/3 Cup of Dairy Free Butter, cold

3 Tablespoons of Yeast

2 1/2 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

1/2 Cup of Warm Water

6 Eggs, Separated

3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Tablespoons of Grass Fed Gelatin

1/2 Cup of Cool Water

Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Measure the arrowroot, sweet potato flour, coconut flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and sea salt into a large bowl and whisk until combined. Measure in the dairy free butter and work through lightly with fingers until the butter is broken up throughout the flour. Set aside. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs to stiff peak.

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Warm the 1/2 Cup of water and add the sugar and yeast. Whisk quickly and set aside. In a ramekin or small bowl, measure 1/2 cup of water and the gelatin. Work quickly. Whisk together with a fork and microwave for 20 seconds. Set aside.

Add the egg yolks to the whipped egg whites and mix on medium to combine. Add the apple cider vinegar, the yeast mixture, and with the mixer on medium, slowly drizzle the gelatin mixture in.  Change the whisk to a paddle. Turn the mixer on medium and slowly add the flour mixture. Turn the mixer on medium high for 1 minute.

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The dough will be wet. With a spoon, scoop out 15 mounds of dough onto the baking sheets. It helps to get one had wet to remove the dough from the spoon in a round semi ball form. I like mine to look rustic, but you can also smooth out the dough a bit with a wet hand once it’s on the baking sheet if you like.

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Place the baking sheets on top of the stove. Spray two sheets of plastic wrap with non-stick spray and lay lightly over the dough. Cover each baking sheet with a light dish towel and let rise for 40 minutes.

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Remove the dish towels and plastic and bake for 20 minutes.

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Chocolate Chai Macaroons

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Did you know I’m a klutz?

Some synonyms would be clumsy, stumblebum, butterfingers, awkward, accident prone…

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I don’t know why and it seems to come in waves, but really, I’ve been one all my life. In fact, I remember being called “Grace” on many occasions in my childhood and I don’t think it was because I was so angelic that I “graced” everyone with my presence.

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I’m not sure if I blogged about it, but right after we moved into our house in New Hampshire I fell all the way down the flight of stairs from our bedroom and tore my right shoulder. Shoulder tears are not fun and take months to heal if they heal at all. Luckily, mine eventually did.

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Then, a few months ago I was reaching over the gate that leads to our basement to set something on the stairs… Why do we have a gate? Because the cat box and cat food are in the basement and we have very “inquisitive” dogs.  As you can probably already guess something went awry.

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I guess I leaned on it just a little to much and it slipped right out of the door jam. I went with it and got my foot caught in the cat door at the bottom of the gate and fell all the way down the stairs.

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Once my husband figured out I was OK and I only came away with just a few scrapes and bruises, he said, “You need to be more careful, you’re not getting any younger you know.” Then our son arrived for a visit a while later and Tony said, “Guess what mom did!” with such excitement I actually thought, what did I do? Then I heard, “She fell down the stairs!”

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Two weeks ago I was cooking dinner and I guess I must have left a cupboard open, because next thing I knew, I turned around and smacked right into it with my forehead. I didn’t even swear. I’m so used to being a klutz, it doesn’t even elicit naughty words anymore. Just a lot of, “WHY? WHY? WHY’s!” That one left a mark that had to be covered with makeup every day.

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A week and a half ago I was walking from the dining room down to our family room and I have no idea what happened but the stairs suddenly turned into a slide. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom and I fell so violently that the plastic padded glass water bottle I had in my hand broke. Four stairs. Not even a flight of stairs.

While I was falling, I reached out to grab something to stop myself like most people do I’m assuming, and tore the same shoulder again. This time my husband, lounging on the couch fully horizontal, didn’t even bother to get up. I just heard, “Are you OK?” Um….nooooooo. Later he did bring me ice packs for my shoulder and reminded me once again, “You know you’re not getting any younger, you don’t want to break a hip or something.”

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A few days ago, I bent down to put some things into a recycling bag that was set where it doesn’t normally live in the kitchen. I had placed it there because it was almost full and needed to go out to the big bin in the garage. Sure enough, when I bent down, I smacked my forehead on the corner of the bar.

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When my husband left for work this morning I deemed today, “Pajama and Chocolate Day”. I had breakfast and then I made myself a cup of hot chocolate.

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100% Coconut milk, 2 squares of dark chocolate, about 1 teaspoon of raw honey, a couple pinches of cinnamon and a pinch of turmeric. I also added a little dollop of coconut whipped cream made with pure vanilla and coconut sugar.

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So I guess it’s no surprise that I’m sore. Very sore. I think I feel like what really old people feel like. My shoulder still hurts, it’s making my neck tight and giving me a headache, and I’m almost positive I’m going to have a permanent bruise on my forehead. That calls for lounging around in one’s PJ’s and indulging in chocolaty things.

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The cookie recipe makes 15 cookies, and as you can probably tell, there are not 15 cookies on this plate. There are 11 because I ate four, in one sitting.

Which is as it should be on a Pajama & Chocolate Day.

Yours Truly,

Grace

Chocolate Chai Macaroons 

*Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2 Cups of Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

2/3 Cups of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

2/3 Cups of Coconut Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Coconut Flour

1 Tablespoon of Sweet Potato Flour

1 Tablespoon of Chai Mix (see below)

2 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3 Eggs

1 teaspoon of Pure Almond Extract

1/3 Cup of Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

Mix all ingredients well in one bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out 15 heaping Tablespoons of the cookie dough. Bake for 16 minutes.

Chai Spice Mix

This spice mix can be used for all kinds of delicious things, you’ll have extra.

1 Small Jar

3 teaspoons of Ground Turmeric

4 teaspoons of Ground Cardamom

4 teaspoons of Ground Cloves

4 teaspoons of Ground Allspice

8 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon

6 teaspoons of Ground Ginger

Measure all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until combined. Spoon into a storage jar.

A Recovered Bread Fail

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Yesterday I told you I’ve been trying to find the “Best” gluten free, grain free, bread. I’m working on my own creations as well as trying other blogger’s recipes.

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Have you visited the gluten free, dairy free, paleo blog, The Spunky Coconut?

Almond milk, eggs, cinnamon, & pure almond extract.

Almond milk, eggs, cinnamon, & pure almond extract.

Kelly’s recipes are gorgeous and exciting, the blog itself is beautiful, but the best part is that her recipes are creative and fun. Something you don’t experience very often when leading an allergen free life.

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I tried her Coconut Milk Bread recipe a few days ago, but didn’t follow it exactly… Remember yesterday when I discussed how frustrated people get when they say they followed a recipe “exactly” and didn’t get the same results as the person sharing the recipe?

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Exactly means exactly. I knew full well that because I wasn’t following it exactly, I more than likely wouldn’t get the same results she did. And I was right.

Here’s what the Spunky Coconut’s Bread looked like:

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And below is what mine looked like.

I didn’t have the psyllium husk powder her recipe called for. After a little research on how to substitute, I used ground flax instead. The result was something that didn’t look anything liker her bread. Go figure…ha! But, that’s how we learn, right? Ground flax is not a good substitute for psyllium husk powder.

Now we know.

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She also uses a special 5 Cup glass bread pan to get the shape and rise. You can find the link for ordering within her recipe link above.

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However, all was not lost.

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This slightly adjusted bread recipe didn’t turn out how I had hoped, but it made for some excellent French toast.

Fry in dairy free butter and a bit of coconut oil until golden.

Fry in dairy free butter and a bit of coconut oil until golden.

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