March 2008


Although I love Chinese tea, and get an occasional craving for a sweet and milky cup of tea – I AM A COFFEE ADDICT.  I don’t deny it, in fact in the midst of all my food eliminations I adamantly told my naturopath that I wouldn’t be giving up my coffee.  Fortunately, for me, the acidity of the coffee may actually be assisting my body and as such she not only agreed, she encouraged me to continue drinking coffee.  That’s what I find so interesting about my sudden desire to make tea cookies.

I’ve been on the look-out for Matcha for quite some time, however every time I see some, my thrifty side comes out and I convince myself that I will be able to find it for cheaper somewhere else – at least while I decide whether its something I want to make a regular addition to my pantry.  Yesterday, my persistence paid off and I am now the proud owner of some Matcha from a Japanese company, Ujinotsuyu (note: I can’t seem to find my product on the website).  I always seem to think I can make it through a week or even a weekend without baking, but then something like a chance encounter with affordable matcha occurs, and I’m back in the kitchen agian.

After some searching I decided to use Elana’s Butter Cookies (namely splitting the dough in half and making both matcha and chai tea cookies) taking into account Lovescool‘s Green Tea Sweets, which is cross-linked all over the web,and create some gluten-free tea cookies.  As I searched for my base recipes, I discovered that tea cookies could be made with any tea; all I had to do was grind the tea to a fine powder and experiment.  The white chai tea I had recently purchased, quickly came to mind and I knew I had to try it.

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I made a few adaptations to Elana’s recipe, but there’s definitely still some more refinements to be made until they taste just right.  I love the blanched, sliced almonds on the green tea cookies, I’d like to top the chai tea cookies with something too – perhaps just cinnamon.  I’m also still awaiting the re-introduction of refined sugar to my diet – I won’t use it like I used to, but I’d love to coat these cookies in castor sugar, or perhaps even dip them in some white chocolate.  Mmmm, just the thought is making me salivate.

I’m finally beginning to realize, that this process; working with a recipe, slowly changing it, evolving it to my own tastebuds – I’m only just realizing, that I love it.  I learned to cook from my Dad; Asian cooking is about feel, colour, texture.  There’s often no written recipe, just the video in my mind and the familiarity in my senses that tells me how to cook: won tons, beef and broccoli, fried rice, sweet and sour pork, steamed pork – all of my Asian favourites. 

But I always shied away from changing a recipe when I baked.  Yet, I’ve never been a precision baker, my measurements are always “close enough”, often measured using the wrong tools, yet despite the lectures in food class promising utter failure for such actions, my goodies nearly always turned out delicious.   Learning to live the gluten-free life, I’ve finally been stepping up to the challenge of adapting my old recipes to suit my new gluten-free needs.  Now I realize, not only am I not intimidated, I’m excited.   Times are changing, meals are changing and most importantly, attitudes are changing.

 All that being said, I know the that’s not the case for everyone.  I mentioned a friend a while back, who by a stroke of luck, ate my food for a few days, only to discover that gluten may be one of her hidden enemies.  She’s been reading and commenting around here however, although she loves to eat my food, I know that she likes things a lot simpler in her kitchen.  She was so excited at her purchase of a pre-mixed gluten-free flour – finally something she could just substitute into her normal cooking.  Knowing that she too loves words, I have invited her to guest blog and share her perspectives.  Hopefully this will encourage her and you will all have a chance to hear from her soon.

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The first day back, after a 4 day weekend is always hard.  Fortunately, 4 days off also generally means a busy day, which of course goes by quite quickly.  I managed to sneak in a trip to Choices Market on the weekend, which means I have a fridge full of delicious foods, including a few of my pre-made Gluten-Free favourites.

As you may have gathered, I love to cook and I love to feed people.  In general, I prefer to prepare my own food as I then have so much more control over what exactly I am eating and in what quantity.  That being said, there are definitely some pre-made food that is fabulous.

I started my morning off with some LifeStream Buckwheat Berry Waffles, which I purchase every time I see them on sale and then promptly devour them before becoming sad that the box is empty.  If you haven’t tried these, I highly recommend them – in addition to being delicious, they often go on sale for little more money than regular Eggo waffles.  In fact this weekend, they were the cheapest I had seen, 2 boxes for $6.  You KNOW I bought 2 boxes.

Perhaps not exactly a pre-made food, but another item I can’t seem to leave Choices without, are Food for Life, Brown Rice Tortillas.  These tortillas are not only delicious, they crisp up wonderfully and make great quesedillas, they don’t fall apart quite as easily as corn tortillas and at $3.99 for 6 they aren’t really all that much more expensive than wheat tortillas.  Make sure you look in the freezer section, or you won’t find them.

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Speaking of pre-made food, everyone’s lazy sometimes; tonight we had M&M Meats Bistro Chicken Swiss, which is basically an un-breaded chicken cordon bleu.  Although you can’t tell from this product listing, I couldn’t find any gluten-containing items in the ingredients, and it came up on M&M’s gluten-free list (they can print off a gluten-free list in store, it takes about 10 minutes, so make sure you have time – at my store they keep it in the drawer available for any customer that asks to see it), not to mention I’ve ate it quite a few times without problems.

Well, that’s today’s glimpse into the shopping cart.

I told someone at work the other day;
I think I could have been a Baker – in another life
Not only do I think it, I know it.

I couldn’t resist – a day off and a few hours to spare before heading out to catch up with an old high school friend.  Amazing Black Bean Brownies are in the oven and they smell delicious.  I’ve learned that the best way to let recipes that need cooling, actually cool – is to leave the house.  I have a plan.

I will say that despite being a relativley straight forward recipe, these brownies take a lot of equipment – I needed my microwave, my food processor, my kitchen aid not to mention a couple extra bowls for mixing and blending.  I am a believer in trying a recipe as-is the first time, so that you always have a refernce point for changes you  might make in the future.  That being said, I did replace the walnuts with chocolate chips (added to the chocolate mixture, after blending the bean mixture, but before adding the egg mixture) as my little sister is allergic to nuts, and I’m planning on taking them to my parents for dinner tonight. 

 I did however, manage to suppress my urge to replace some of the butter (it uses a whole cup!) with some coconut oil, canola oil or even some applesauce.  In my opinion, this recipe is also a little bit on the pricey side, 1.5 cups of Agave is a fair amount – especially since the jars I’ve been able to find are about $9 for 500ml.  I may try using semi-sweet chocolate next time in order to take the Agave down a notch, although I know it ups the refined sugar uptake.

 Mmm, they just came out of the oven – I can’t wait to eat them.

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Note: I couldn’t find a big enough pan, so I used a 9×13 and an 8×8!

Welcome to Gluten-Free Goodness – my new blog entirely devoted to food and my pursuit of the Gluten-Free life.  I have been considering making a food devoted blog for quite some time now, and have finally decided to take the plunge.  Hopefully it will turn out to be useful, for both myself and any potential readers that may find their way here.

I have been eating a lot of red meat lately – I seem to be craving it, and thus I have been eating it.  I try to listen to my cravings and eat what my body asks for, but in the last few days my drive for red meat seems to be subsiding.  Yesterday I was craving chicken, the thing is, I’ve eated a LOT of plain baked chicken as of late and decided to go for something just a little more exciting.  I decided to adapt a recipe for mushroom parmesean I have used before, but since I didn’t actually have any parmesean cheese, I don’t even feel right keeping the name. 

Note :the picture is lacking as I was too hungry to wait for a picture last night, and instead re-plated the cold food and took a picture this morning – sorry about that.

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GF Cheesy Chicken

checken-small.jpgchecken-small.jpgIngredients:

  • 2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tbsp Herbamere seasoning
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil
  • 1 jar pasta sauce*
  • Grated cheese**

 *  I used a can of tomatoes and some leftover Pizza sauce, use what you have on hand 
** I used a mixture of marble and mozzarella cheese, again use whatever you have

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour and herbamere seasoning. 
  3. In a second bowl, beat the eggs.
  4. Slice the chicken in half lengthwise so you end up with four, thin, flat pieces of chicken.
  5. Dip each piece of chicken into the flour and coat both sides
  6. Heat a non-stick frying pan to medium-high heat
  7. Drizzle pan with olive oil.
  8. Dip rice flour coated chicken in the egg, then place into the hot frying pan, and allow chicken to brown on both sides.
  9. Meanwhile spread 1/2 of your pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
  10. Once you have browned both sides of your chicken, place it neatly in your prepared pan.
  11. Once all your chicken has been browned, place 1-tbsp of the remaining sauce on each piece of chicken, then top with grated cheese.
  12. Scoop any remaining pasta sauce into the pan, around your chicken.
  13. Place the pan in the oven and cook for another 30 minutes – until your chicken is cooked!
  14. Enjoy!

I accompanied this dish with a side of rice spaghetti – there is plenty of sauce to share!  Now, if only I had some brocolli last night, I could have considered this a complete meal.

When I found out I had to drastically alter my diet, I immediately looked to the Internet. I searched and clicked, reading and discovering everything I could, about Gluten-Free eating. I spend hours looking at recipes and reading articles, sometimes I feel like I’ve found so much wonderful information, there can’t possibly be more. But there is more. There’s always more. A new keyword to search, a link from a friend or a blog, or sometimes sheer luck. Regardless, I consistently find new GF discoveries hidden throughout the Internet.

You may notice, I updated my sidebar, with a couple of new food blogs – I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss a few of them for so long.

Elana’s Pantry is full of delicious recipes, in fact I’ve already made two of her recipes – in the last 3 days. I made her power bars only I used almonds AND cashews for my base, and melted unsweetened chocolate (with a handful of chocolate chips) to top my bars off. They were so delicious, I had to pack a few up and throw them in the freezer for fear I would eat them all before the weekends end.

My house is filled with the sweet aroma of vanilla, almonds and raisins, as I made my first batch of Elana’s granola just this morning. I used 3/4 cashews and 1/4 pine nuts in place of the macadamia’s, added a 1/4 cup of coconut and drizzled with brown rice syrup. Now cool, I tested the granola on some plain probiotic yogurt – delicious!! Next time I may add some fruit, or even try applesauce instead of raisins, but for now, I will just enjoy.

I will warn you now, if you are allergic to nuts, Elana’s Pantry may be a disappointment. Elana and her family can obviously tolerate nuts – the majority of her recipes call for almonds or blanched almond flour. Personally, I can eat nuts, the recipes I’ve tried have been delicious and I’m eager to try many more of her recipes…

I also found Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks, her site is well organized making it easy to find her very full listing of 101 Cookbooks: Gluten-Free – I can’t wait to try the recently posted, amazing black bean brownies

I’ve been browsing recipes and reading blogs, wading my way through the gluten-free sea, and have come across the babycakes, more than one time. And of course, I wonder how delicious these treats must be, and I wonder what gluten-free secrets this little bakery must hold.

Imagine my excitement when I discovered that Co-founder Erin McKenna had shared some recipes with Martha Stewart – and they were available online.

I made her allergen-free brownies 0nly I cheated and used regular chocolate chips. My first try with Agave and they are delicious!

There was also a recipe for cinnamon toasties, which I intend to try.

I also found these useful substitution tips – particularly handy with the agave as I’m still trying to keep the sugar out.

– Cow’s milk can be substituted part-for-part by rice milk or soy milk
– Instead of eggs, you can use 3 tablespoons of applesauce for each egg
– You can substitute sugar with agave nectar, which comes from a cactus and can be found in your organic supermarket
– Use 2/3 cup agave nectar per 1 cup of sugar

Even more searching and I discovered a few more recipes from Erin McKenna and Babycakes bakery…I’m ambitious and also decided to try the Cinnamon banana bread from this batch of recipes – I haven’t tasted it yet, but I’m worried I didn’t have enough banana. I also substitued the flour mix used in the brownie recipe above as the garbanzo/potato starch/arrowroot appeared to be a trend in her recipes. We’ll see how it goes.

On a happy note, the camera and pictures are no longer MIA.

The pizza picture is now up…mmm delicious!

And just because sometimes I take pictures of food that looks good – this was a breakfast when I was still eating yeast bread.

Garlic sauteed spinach and mushroom with poached eggs with toasted “Choices brown rice multiseed bread”

**drool**

Since I have been eating anti-candida, I have been challenged to find foods, particularly bread products, that are both gluten and yeast free. I have since cut back on deli-meat and cheese, but this was a staple of my diet for at least a month, perhaps longer. This recipe is quick, easy and delicious -YOU can certainly make it. And as a gluten-eating friend of mine said, “it just tastes like pizza”. That being said, my husband (who also eats gluten) has expressed his opinion that he only likes it fresh. Personally, so long as its not cold, (the texture gets a little funny, its better if it has been microwaved when eating leftovers) I’m happy.

This recipe has been adapted from Bette Hagman’s
The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy

The crust can be made with a dairy-free milk substitute, however as it is pizza you will also then need a dairy-free cheese, which I know can be a bit difficult, however if you don’t have a dairy problem, use cows milk and cheese.

I like to eat Pepperoni Pizza, so that is what I am listing here, but of course you can put whatever toppings you would like on your pizza – but remember not to put too many “wet” ingredients (vegetables/fruit) or you will have a soggy crust.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup bean flour*
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 heaping tbsp brown rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk (or non-dairy liquid)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

~175 grams of GF Pepperoni, sliced thick**
Grated cheese***

*I like to use garbanzo bean flour here – you can use whatever you have on hand or whatever you prefer. I have used a 50:50 mixture of garbanzo and whole bean flour in the past, but found the end result a little too heavy.

** I like the Grimm’s Pepperoni the best (I get it at the IGA Marketplace Deli), but Overlander (from Safeway Deli’s) is also good, just a little spicier.

***I have gotten the best flavour from an approximately 70:30 mix of mozzarella and cheddar, again adapt to your own taste, or use lactose-free cheese if necessary.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a medium bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients.

In a second bowl, or using your mixer, mix the milk and oil.

Mix the liquid and dry ingredients. (If using a mixer add the dry to the wet, if mixing by hand add the wet to the dry)

You will have a goopy mixture.
Pour mixture onto a greased pizza pan (or a cookie sheet) and use a spatula to carefully spread the batter as evenly as possible on the pan. If you are using a cookie sheet, you don’t need to fill the pan, just spread out a 10″ circle.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until slightly browned and puffed. The top may have some small cracks – this is OK.

Working quickly, spread your sauce and toppings on the pizza. Remember for pepperoni pizza, the pepperoni goes on top of the cheese. 175g is enough to put a scant layer under the cheese and then still do a full layer on top. If you like less, use less.

Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly before cutting and enjoy!!

Take extra enjoyment in the fact that this indulgence is made with beans and thus provides a little bit of extra protein to your meal – but also remember if beans make you prone to gas, you may not want to eat the entire pizza in one sitting!!

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