Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Finds - Lovely Candy

With Easter just around the corner I wanted to do a quick post on these wonderful candies. Lovely Candy Company makes the candies pictured and a few other tempting flavors. What is pictured is what I have been able to find locally at Target but they are in many more stores according to their website. I love being able to pick up a bag so conveniently. 

I don't post a lot of products because my family feels better when we keep processed and packaged food to a minimum and eat a whole food based diet. Treats like these are an exception to the rule. Lovely Candy is gluten and GMO free and uses rbst free dairy in their caramels. The fruit chews are vegan. I feel good about the quality and I love each flavor we have tried.

Since they are individually wrapped they would be perfect for putting in plastic eggs for an egg hunt or Easter basket. The individual wrapping also slows me down a wee bit keeping me from inhaling the bag instantly!

As I said, we've all loved every flavor. My sons used to love a certain fruit chew years ago - one we gave up when we went dye free - I had hoped these would be a good replacement. Not really. They are so much better than what we remember those other candies tasting like that it seems wrong to compare them. Both caramels are chewy and creamy and delicious. 

Try them and let me know how you like them. I'd love to hear your all natural and gluten free Easter ideas, too!


Friday, March 21, 2014

March Muffin Madness With Gluten Free Easily!

I am so excited to be a part of Shirley Braden's March Muffin Madness over at her amazing site: Gluten Free Easily.

Every day this month Shirley has been featuring a different muffin recipe from various gluten free bloggers. It's been so fun to check out each recipe - they are all so different and they all look delicious. Check them all out and be sure to comment on her posts as she has some amazing prizes lined up!

And spend some time on Gluten Free Easily. I've told many friends that I wish I'd known of it when we first went gluten free. Not only does Shirley have dozens of her own wonderful recipes, she features lots of other bloggers on GFE Facebook page and her all dessert site: All Gluten-Free Desserts All the Time!

Shirley will be featuring one of my very favorite, high protein muffins, my Sneaky Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins.  My family cannot taste the sneaky ingredient and I love that they're getting extra nutrition.

Now, go! Check out March Muffin Madness and all the wonderful muffin recipes! Enjoy!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Praline Blondies - Gluten Free & Grain Free

Last night Marc, Marie and sweet Aiden came for dinner and I wanted to make something a little different for dessert. My Praline Buttercream sounded really good, but I didn't have a lot of time to bake and ice a cake or cupcakes. Instead I made the ingredients for Praline Buttercream the basis of a pan of quick and easy blondies.

Creaming together the butter, coconut sugar and vanilla powder I simply added a cup of Moon Rabbit Foods Cassava Flour, eggs and a dash of salt, then some chopped pecans and mini chocolate chips for good measure were stirred in. Super simple to whip up, quick to bake and so delicious.

The combination of coconut sugar and butter gives these blondies that amazing praline flavor so easily. Cassava flour provides a mild flavor and wonderful texture. No gluten free gums are necessary at all. The bars cut beautifully even when warm. Gluten free doesn't have to be hard and you don't need a bunch of different flours.

Praline Blondies
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and have a 9x13 pan ready (no greasing necessary)

Cream together

1 cup            Butter (I use Kerrygold)
1 3/4 cup      Coconut Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Powder

When well mixed, add:

1 cup           Cassava Flour (I use Moon Rabbit Foods)
3 large          Eggs
1/2 cup         Raw Pecans, chopped
1 cup            Mini Chocolate Chips
pinch            Sea Salt

Spread into 9x13 pan. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool and enjoy!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Praline Buttercream & Chocolate Cashew Cake

Praline Buttercream may be my favorite way to top a cake ever - even if it isn't chocolate. A couple of months ago I experimented with with a basic buttercream recipe. (On that day it crowned the Moon Rabbit Foods chocolate cupcakes). I had wanted to use coconut sugar which has a really rich, wonderful flavor. I decided to whirl it in the food processor until it was almost as fine as powdered sugar, but with a little bit of texture left for a bit of a praline crunch. Beating the ground coconut sugar with yummy Kerrygold butter and a bit of ground vanilla powder made the most amazing flavor and texture. While not exactly health food, both the coconut sugar and Kerrygold have lots of benefits.
Marc, Mom, Aiden, Dad & Marie.

Yesterday I made Praline Buttercream again with a quick from-scratch cake for an early birthday celebration for Marc. 

Marc's cake was made from cashew meal, honey, eggs and cocoa - so good and so easy in the Vitamix. 

I think it would have been just as delicious if I'd used a stand mixer but using the Vitamix made the cashew meal very smooth and gave the cake a light texture. Again, the cake wasn't exactly health food but it was full of protein to balance the sugar.

Praline Buttercream & Chocolate Cashew Cake

For the Buttercream:

2 cups         Organic Coconut Sugar
1 cup           Kerrygold Butter, softened
1 teaspoon   Ground Vanilla Bean Powder

In a food processor whirl coconut sugar until almost powdery. You'll probably have a little sugar dust escape through the vent and it should look something like mine does here. You will notice it will get a shade or two lighter.

Transfer sugar to mixing bowl and beat with butter and vanilla powder. I have used both the whisk and paddle attachments in my stand mixer and both worked well. I would assume a hand mixer would work just as well. Beat until creamy and set aside until the cake has cooled.

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan.

Place the following ingredients into Vitamix in order. 

4                Eggs
1 lb.           Cashew Meal
1 cup         Honey
1/2 cup      Cocoa
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Using the tamper through the lid, turn the Vitamix on low and scrape the ingredients down toward the blades so that everything is thoroughly mixed. Adjust the Vitamix to high while continuing to use the tamper for about a minute. 

Using a spatula pour cake mix into pan and spread evenly. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Center will be springy to touch.

Cool and spread Praline Buttercream over the cake, then serve to the people you love.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Finds - Mineral Fusion 3-in-1 Stick

It's been quite a while since I've done a Friday Find but this little stick of color got me back to the keyboard. Some products are too good not to share.

Mineral Fusion is one of my favorite companies. I love their skin care, hair care and make up. Mineral Fusion products are not only free of gluten but also of the dyes and other additives that are in most other make up. It's make up I can feel good about using. 

This little 3-in-1 stick is my newest find. I bought it only yesterday and fell in love with it this morning.

During the winter I sometimes need/want a little extra color but I don't like anything too heavy or bright. The color of the stick is soft and sheer and isn't greasy at all. It isn't so dry that it pulls or tugs at your skin. 

You can literally just dot it on your cheeks and smudge a wee bit. Used under lip balm its a perfect lip color without screaming color. As I've gotten older I've lost a lot of my natural lipcolor and just a bit of color is all I want. A smudge at the brow bone give just a bit of a lift.

If you try it let me know what you think.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Moon Rabbit Foods Gluten Free Scones

Life has been getting in the way of blogging again but I really wanted to share a quick post about Moon Rabbit Foods. Please excuse the cell phone photos - know that everything really looks better than it appears and tastes amazing.

Moon Rabbit Foods is a North Carolina company based near Asheville that makes a wonderful line of gluten free mixes with Cassava flour. I have purchased several varieties and we have enjoyed each and every one we have tried.

Moon Rabbit also sells bags of 100% Cassava flour for baking in your own recipes. Cassava and Tapioca are the same plant and I use Tapioca starch every so often in my own gluten free baking (like these). I like it because it really doesn't have a strong flavor of it's own so it lends itself to sweet and savory baking. The Cassava flour has a different and really wonderful texture which gives baked goods more of a traditional feel.

I first became aquainted with Moon Rabbit Foods when I met Eric DeBerry of MRF at the blogger dinner at Bella Monica for the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event in Durham last summer.  The mixes are certified gluten free, all natural and created by pastry chefs with years of experience. They were a little hard to find at first, but I just kept asking my local Whole Foods to carry them and they finally appeared on the shelves.

The first item we tried was the Brownie Mix and it is a family wide favorite. The recipe on the package calls for a lot of butter (which is a very good thing in my book) and makes the silkiest brownie you can imagine. I've also lightened it up by subbing pureed pumpkin for the butter in one batch and the end result was still wonderful - taste and texture.
The Chocolate Cake Mix was really a treat. I baked it for a recent family party as cupcakes and topped it with a Praline Buttercream Icing I'd just created. The cupcake texture was identical to a traditional cupcake made with cake flour - nice and light. The chocolate flavor, like the brownies, is dark and sweet. I will share the Praline Buttercream soon because I really want to make it again. =D 

The Pancake and Waffle Mix cooks up light and fluffy and we all enjoyed them.

The Premium Cassava Flour is something I've been dying to experiment more with. As yet I have just made a delicious batch of biscuits that were devoured quickly. I just need a little more time on my hands to play in the kitchen.

The Biscuit and Scone Mix was my latest experiment because I knew it would be a quick and easy treat. I decided to substitute a can of full fat coconut milk for the butter and cream and add milk chocolate chips. Milk chocolate chips are a little sweet for my taste - but Joe loves them - so I cut back on the sugar just a bit. I calculated the volume of the coconut milk to butter/cream and I was just one ounce off and didn't adjust from there. The texture was ideal and they were just as good the second day.

Here's what I did:

Milk Chocolate Chip Scones

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1 Package Moon Rabbit Foods
1 Fourteen Ounce Can of Full Fat, additive free Coconut Milk
1/4 Cup Organic Cane Sugar
1 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips

Combine the first three ingredients until just combined - I used my KitchenAid stand mixer with the paddle attachment - a hand mixer will work as well. Add the milk chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide the dough into two portions on each side of the large baking sheet and pat into circles about six to seven inches. Cut each circle into six triangular wedges.

Bake approximately 20 minutes or until lightly browned like the photo above.

Cool slightly and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gluten Free Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

My awesome friend Laura recently gave me a head's up that Trader Joe's is carrying now carrying bags of Cashew Meal. She knows I use TJ's almond meal in so many of my breads, muffins and cakes as it's a high protein, gluten free and grain free flour. Baking treats with more protein seems to help us to metabolize them better without nasty sugar highs and lows. However, a lot of my Feingold friends cannot use almonds as they are a higher salicylate food.

(Speaking of Feingold friends, Candy has an interview with Cindy Harrell who, among other things puts the Feingold Food List together. Check it out for a great, quick overview of the program which we joined in 2005. We found Joe's migraines were triggered by food dyes and by following Feingold we've relieved a host of other issues.)

Other nuts can be used very successfully in baking. You can grind your own nuts and I've done that making the delicious Leah's Pecan Paleo Bread and my own Pecan Pie Muffins! Purchasing specialty nut flours online is easy but they're pricey and waiting for delivery isn't always convenient. Trader Joe's charges $4.99 a pound now - that's less than half what my online source charges.

Cashews are a wonderful choice because their mild taste won't overpower other ingredients and TJ's cashew meal has a really fine texture and bakes to a nice consistency. Coconut sugar gives a nice brown sugar flavor and has many nutritional benefits. I've made these with coconut oil and with butter and both were very well received. The butter made for a slightly softer bar than the coconut oil version. I've used flax meal rather than eggs and if you use coconut oil you'll have yummy gluten free, casein free, grain free and vegan bars. The best part is they come together in about five minutes.

Gluten Free Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 13 x 9 pan.

1 lb.   Cashew Meal
1 cup Coconut Sugar
6 T.   Golden Flax Meal
1 cup Water
3 T.    Coconut Oil or Butter, softened
1 T.    Gluten Free Vanilla
1 t.     Baking Soda
dash   Salt
1 cup  Mini Chocolate Chips - I use Enjoy Life

Mix together everything but the chocolate chips. The batter will seem very wet until the water is absorbed by the flax meal. When well combined mix in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan and bake for approximately 30 - 40 minutes or until set in the middle and as golden brown as you like. Enjoy!