Affairs of Living

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods recipes

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries from September 1, 2009 - September 30, 2009


My beet love affair: "Triple B" Beet and Black Bean Chili (gluten free, vegan, tomato free)

When I woke up yesterday morning, I noticed something remarkable.  My nose was cold.  Not just a little chilly, but downright cold.  I had left my bedroom window open, as usual, but this time, something was different.  This time, the night air had a bite to it, that crisp twist indicative of the change of seasons, of Fall's inevitable return. That cool night air crept into my bedroom while I slept, and it left its mark on my face.  According the the weather man on my clock radio, it was only about 42º F outside; from the feel of the air in my bedroom, and feel of the tip of my nose, I believed him.  It's funny how we all doubt the weatherman's predictions of beautiful weather, but never doubt the proclamation of cold temperatures.  So, I hit the snooze, buried my face in my pillow, and pulled the quilt over my head, nestling into the warm cocoon of my bed.  There is nothing more delicious (except this chili, recipe that is).

Once I finally decided to greet the day, well before the sun, I was struck with the most intense desire for chili, and concurrently, the most intense onset of goosebumps.  So, I threw some dry black beans in a bowl to soak, unsure of what direction the chili would take, but with a hope for something great.  Then I put on gloves, a down vest, and a scarf, and hopped my bike to commute to work.  By the time I arrived downtown, my cheeks were flushed, and my hot breath became visible in the cool air.  The streets were filled with blazers, scarves, and pea coats, a drastic departure from the sundresses, sandals, and linen of only a month ago.

All day I thought about the chili while checking emails, and sometime mid-afternoon, I was struck with what I considered the most brilliant idea: instead of stewed tomatoes, a chunky beet puree would form the base of my chili.  It seemed like the perfect way to tackle the beets in my crisper and add great flavor and body to the soup.  Sure, you can make tomato free chili, but it is never really quite the same, in my opinion.  There needs to be something there.  Pureed beet sauce would be just the right thing.  Hey, why not?  Beet and black bean vegetable chili sounded great to me.  I've been using beets in a ton of recipes lately, so it fit the theme.  Plus, all those "b"s were screaming for a catchy name like "Triple B" Chili.

YES! I had a plan. 

So, when I got home, my tummy grumbling and the urge for chili even stronger, I threw the beans and beets in the pressure cookers, and set to work.  I love soups that are brimming with vegetables, so I chopped up garden-fresh sweet onions, garlic, carrots, and zucchini to add to the mix.   For seasonings, I decided on a mix of cumin, coriander, basil, and a bit of roasted carob powder for a smoky sweet flavor.  In the end, the chili was thick, chunky, and incredibly flavorful and satisfying.   For a bit of extra smoky flavor, I added a pinch of smoked salt (yum...).  Visually, this soup is a winner - it is a beautiful deep burgundy red color, flecked with bits of green, orange, red, and black. But best yet, it is totally tomato free!  For all of you sensitive to tomatoes, this is the perfect solution, you won't even miss 'em!  And if you're one of those people that is uneasy about beets, don't worry - their strong flavor is tempered by the beans, vegetables, and seasonings.  Easy to prepare, and full of protein, fiber, and loads of vitamins and minerals, this soup is ideal for a chilly night.  It should freeze well, so make a batch, and save some for later.   The vegetables are totally interchangeable, so feel free to customize to fit you your needs.  Can't do carrots or zucchini?  Try adding bell pepper, or if you can, fresh corn (lucky you!).  Intolerant to onions?  Leave 'em out, and add an equal amount of other vegetables.  Like it spicy?  Add chili powder, cayenne, or fresh diced jalepeño peppers.  Make it yours!

As I felt cool air sneak in through my open living room window, I relished in a bowl of my chili, garnished with fresh chives. I had harvested a mighty handful from the garden earlier in the evening when I went to cover my plants.  Yes, that's right - we had our first frost advisory in the Twin Cities last night, and I'm not quite ready to give up on the garden yet.  So, I was spooking around the backyard in the dark, covering my tender  plants with old sheets, and harvesting chives, tarragon, rosemary, and basil to put in the dehydrator.   I picked the last cucumber, the last zucchini (finally!), and the second to last butternut.

Yes, the weatherman was right, the weather is changing, the temperatures are cooler, and Fall is upon us.  I see it in the earth, I feel it in my body, and I'm welcoming it with open arms, a hungry tummy, and steaming bowls of soup.


yield: about 2 1/2 quarts

2 cups dry black beans (about 4 cups cooked) + water for soaking and cooking
3 large beets, whole
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
2-3 cups chopped vegetables of choice (carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, corn, etc)
2 T cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
2 T extra virgin olive oil,  coconut oil, or other oil
2 T roasted carob powder or cocoa powder
2 T dry basil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (or, add in a pinch of smoked salt - yum!)
1 c water + 2-3 c stock, water, or bean cooking liquid
optional: 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, or 1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals (adds an acidic quality, similar to tomato-based chili) 

optional add-ins to pick and choose (I didn't add because I'm currently avoiding them, but if I could, I would!):
2 T dry oregano
1/2-1 T smoked paprika
1 tsp chile powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2 chipotle pepper powder

If starting with dry beans, soak in 6 c water for 6-8 hours.  Drain, rinse, and cook beans by desired method (stovetop, slow cooker, or pressure cooker) with fresh water.  When beans are tender, drain, and save any of the bean cooking water.  If using canned beans, rinse well before using.

Wash and trim beets, leaving skins on and 1" of the stem, if possible.  Cook whole beets by desired method until tender.  You can do them in the oven (puncture, wrap in foil, cook 400* for about 45 minutes), boil them (large pot with fresh water, boil for about 30-40 minutes), or put them in the pressure cooker (15 lbs pressure for 20 minutes) until tender.  When beets are tender, run under cold water to cool, then slip off skins.  

While beets are cooking, heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat, add cumin seeds and coriander, and saute until fragrant.  Add chopped onions and garlic, stir, cover, and saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add chopped vegetables and a splash of water, then cover, and saute an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.  

To make beet puree, coarsely chop two of the peeled beets (about 2 1/2 c), and add to food processor/blender with 1 c water.  Pulse a few times, then blend until thick and smooth, like a chunky tomato sauce.  Dice the remaining beet, and add to stockpot.

Next, add beet puree to stockpot, along with carob powder, basil, any optional herbs/spices, and 2 cups of the remaining bean cooking liquid, water, or stock.  Stir to mix.

Bring to a simmer, then cover, and cook on medium low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding additional 1 c liquid as necessary for desired consistency and adding salt and adjusting seasonings as needed.
Serve immediately, or cool and freeze for later.  If desired, garnish with fresh chives or cilantro, a dollop of something creamy (non-dairy or dairy yogurt, sour cream, cashew cream, or whatever else you do), or something cheesy.



Harvest Festival: Turnip Broccoli Au Gratin and Red Russian Borscht (gluten free, vegan)

Happy autumnal equinox!

Bring on the comfort food!

Seriously, I feel my body craving foods differently now than back in the height of summer. My body is sensing the change in season, and is yearning for foods of fall's harvest. This means it is time for soup. For roots. For warm cooked things (sorry raw foodies, I like my food cooked once the temperature starts dropping). I've been obsessing over beets and turnips and squashes and apples. So, today I went crazy for fall-time cooking. After eating some of the delightful homemade borscht featured below for lunch, I came home from work and made this amazing Turnip Broccoli Gratin, some fennel-spiked fava bean and rice soup for lunch tomorrow and leftovers, and took my first stab a carob beetroot cake (seriously).

I've been doing all sorts of harvesty things, like going to the apple orchard, hitting up the farmer's market to make huge batches of soup and sauces, admiring fall colors driving through the country, and harvesting the last of the herbs and squashes from my garden. My arugula is still going strong, I still have a couple squashes on the vine, and most of my beets are still firmly planted, but my herbs have waned, my zucchini is (finally) slowing, and even my chard and kale seems to be slowing down. It's true, fall is upon us.

So, in celebration of the change of season, here's a little harvest festival for you, two of my most recent recipes perfectly suited for the final trips to the farmer's market. A lovely Turnip Broccoli Au Gratin, creamy and rich and totally dairy free, and a nourishing Red Russian Borscht, full of beety goodness (and more turnips...).



yield: 1 7"x11" pan

Like potatoes au gratin, but WAY better because it uses the humble turnip, one of my favorite vegetables. There's a reason why a turnip graces the top of my blog - I truly adore them! Especially au gratin style, with broccoli, onions, and rich, creamy Béchamel sauce. Béchamel sauce is an awesome thing to have in your cooking toolbox. It can be made in a flash, and works really well with GF flours to make amazing gravies and creamy sauces for vegetables, meats, and grains.

To top the whole thing off, I sprinkled it with GF bread crumbs. Feel free to sprinkle with any other crumbly tasty stuff you'd like, like nut flour, potato/tapioca chips, crumbled cracker crumbs, or french fried onions. Or, leave it nude and eat without a crunchy, crumbly topping - it will still be wonderful!

1 head broccoli, cut into florets
6-8 mediumish turnips, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium onion, thinly sliced in half-moons
2 cups Béchamel sauce (recipe below)
1/2 c gluten free bread/cracker crumbs
Herbamare/salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400* F.  Wash and prepare vegetables, saving broccoli stems for later use, and set aside.
Prepare Béchamel sauce per directions below.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of 7"x11" glass pan.  Place turnips in pan in long rows, layering each turnip slightly over the other, until pan is full. Tuck broccoli florets between rows and around the edges of pan. Finally, evenly spread thinly sliced onions over entire pan.  Cover with tin foil, and bake for 20-30 minutes. Then remove foil, sprinkle on bread crumbs, salt, and pepper, and place bake in oven to bake until golden and bubbling, approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool 10-20 minutes before serving.


1/4 c + 2 Tbsp millet or brown rice flour
3 T olive oil
3 c water
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2-1 tsp Herbamare
white or black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp garbanzo bean miso (or soy, if tolerated)

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. In a small bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, and ground mustard, then sprinkle over oil. Stir to mix evenly, and toast flour until it smells nutty.
Add water in steady stream, whisking constantly to avoid clumping. Bring heat up to medium high, and bring to a scald while stirring constantly. Then reduce heat to low and let simmer briefly until thickened.
Remove a small amount of the sauce and mix with miso paste, then add back into pot, with additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.


yields plenty.

In keeping with my beet theme of late, here's another beet recipe. Seriously, I can't get beets off my mind, I'm using them constantly right now. I made that beet sauce last week, ate roasted beets all weekend, threw a beet in my smoothie this morning, and am obsessing with the idea of beetroot baked goods (like I said, tonight I made beet carob cake).

In regards to soup, I've always been a sucker for borscht. Borscht is a classic Eastern European soup, pure peasant food at its best, made mostly of beets and with a variety of other vegetables thrown in, depending on the variety and version. I've made various versions of borscht through time, but this one is a winner. I started with a recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, omitting some things, adding others, and throwing in my own twists, and coming up with something new and wonderful. Sweet and tangy, and bursting with rich flavor, this soup features the best of late summer vegetables. And better yet, it is a striking ruby red, dotted with bits of orange, green, and purple. Truly satisfying to the eyes and the belly.

I made a batch of this soup a few weeks ago, and ate greedily off the pot for a couple days. Then I froze the rest for later. "Later" came today - when I looked outside this morning, and saw the clouds and cool weather, a bowl of borscht seemed like the natural choice. What better way to usher in the autumnal equinox than a bowl of soup? Perhaps my current obsession with beets is my body's natural connection to the change of seasons, an unconscious drive to take part in the bounty of fall's harvest. So, I grabbed a pouch of soup from the freezer, a bit of leftover shredded beef from my fridge, and headed off to work. When the lunch hour came, beef and soup went in the bowl, and a smile crossed my face. The flavors and aroma were divine - chunky vegetables in a sea of fragrant broth, a little sweet, a little sour, and brimming with hints of caraway and dill. Perfect.

3 medium beets, peeled and thinly sliced
3 medium turnips, peeled and thinly sliced (or potatoes, if you prefer)
2 small onions, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt or Herbamare
fresh ground black or white pepper
2 Tbsp chopped celery leaves
2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
1-2 Tbsp buckwheat or other variety of honey, or another liquid sweetener (if on ACD, omit sweetener entirely or use a very tiny pinch of stevia)
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice, or 1/2-1 tsp vitamin C crystals dissolved in water)
6-8 cups water or stock
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

optional add-ins:
1/4 c tomato paste (I did not add because I'm allergic to tomatoes, but it would be very good, and is commonly added to borscht!)
grain: cooked kasha (buckwheat groats), brown rice, millet, or quinoa
protein: shredded cooked chicken or beef, cooked white beans, strips of tempeh/tofu, etc.

dairy/non-dairy yogurt or cream, cashew cream, or other creamy something of your choosing
fresh minced dill

Prepare vegetables. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil. Add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, and ground cumin, stir to coat with oil, and heat until fragrant. Add onions, and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add celery and carrot, and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Finally, add beets and turnips, and saute for a few more minutes. Then add cabbage.

Add water/stock, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer on medium until vegetables are almost tender. Then add celery leaves, dill, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, as well as any other add ins (cooked meat/beans, cooked grains, etc). Let simmer 5 more minutes to flavor through, then remove from heat.
Serve immediately, or cool and freeze.



Apple Cupcakes with Raisin Cashew Frosting (gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free)

This weekend is exciting. My brother and sister-in-law have come up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, my hometown, to celebrate their marriage. They were married in a small wedding in Orlando, Florida - their current home - back in April, with immediate family only in attendance. The plan was to have a party for the rest of the family and friends later, and this weekend is party for my brother's clan. So, on Saturday, my family is put on a shindig for about 60 family and friends. It was beautiful, full of great company, great food, and great conversation.

I took a long weekend, coming home on Thursday to help prepare for the party. The funny thing about it is that for Thursday and Friday, while I was back here in Oshkosh, my parents, my brother, and my sister-in-law were Up North. From what I can tell, the phrase "Up North" is a particularly Midwestern concept. "Up North" can be 30 minutes away or it can be 5 hours away, as long as it is north of where you normally live, and involves nature. For us, Up North is located on the border of Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, at my uncle's cabin in Land 'O Lakes. But really, Up North could be anywhere. In conversation, when someone says they are going Up North, it doesn't really matter where they are going exactly, because the general experience is simply understood: there will be lots of trees, lakes, probably a cabin or cottage or lake house of some kind, small funky towns with a bunch of churches and bars and tourist shops selling bad t-shirts and magnets, wild rice for sale along the highway, and bait shops selling worms, summer sausage, and cheese curds. Midwestern people go Up North in the summers, especially over long holiday weekends, and spend lots of time sitting around campfires, swimming in lakes, and eating bratwursts. In the fall, gun-toting Midwesterners go Up North to hunt deer and pheasant and grouse, and come home with dead animals tied to the roof of their car.

So, while I was here on cooking duty, my family was frolicking in the Northwoods at my uncle's cabin, trying introduce my sister-in-law to all of my brother's favorite Up North memories in a mere 36 hours. While I was preparing veggies for a platters of raw and roasted vegetables, my aunt made 4 batches of frosting for the 6 different cupcakes that my mom made for the party.

It was strange being here without my parents around. This house no longer has a space that is mine, all the space has finally been reclaimed by my parents. So, it is their presence here that connects me to this place in an intimate way, not the house itself. I feel somewhat out of place in this town; I haven't lived here since the summer after my freshman year of college, roughly 9 years ago, and I have grown and changed so much since then. That last summer I lived here, I worked at an animal shelter and a restaurant, went cold turkey off anti-depressants, and removed the nappy, hemp-covered, pseudo-dreadlocks from my hair. Upon returning to school that fall for my sophomore year, I never came back. The summer after sophomore year I worked in Hawaii at a music camp and in Decorah, Iowa on an off-the-grid, organic farm. I ate like a vegan, grew out my leg and armpit hair, had the worst seasonal allergies and darkest tan of my life, taught children to play violin, picked strawberries topless, swam with sea turtles, jumped down waterfalls, and was thrown into the world of whole foods, farm-to-table living. I was introduced to activism. I worked with a Norwegian girl name Elizabath who was gluten intolerant, and I remember thinking to myself at the time how AWFUL her life must be with such a restriction (hmn, turns out it isn't so awful after all). After junior year, I spent a financially destitute summer living in in LaCrosse, Wisconsin with my ex and our good friend, where I worked as a telemarketer, took trips to the co-op as a special treat, watched every episode of Sex and the City, battled the raccoon living in our dumpster, ripped up carpet and painted in the apartment to avoid paying rent money, and watched our crazy landlord get arrested. Then, after graduation, I moved immediately (literally, on graduation day) to Minneapolis, with enough money to pay for 1 month's rent and absolutely no plan.

I've been in Minneapolis ever since, experiencing 5 years of growth and development beyond what I could have imagined in such a short time. Minnesota has become a place dear to my heart, but honestly, I never thought I'd be there so long; my heart is that of a gypsy, I suffer an insatiable wanderlust. The fire of exploration is a constant flame deep inside my chest. But its burn has been balanced by practicality and a need for stability: life happened, things got hard, and I needed something I could count on. I needed to keep my job, I needed to keep my health insurance, I needed to keep my support network of dear friends and family. As I've gotten healthier, what had reduced to a flicker is now once again a full blown fire. I can't quell the burn, I need to let it go wild. So, I have a plan to leave; I am plotting my escape from the Midwest, and will be fleeing to the West coast next summer to pursue a new profession and new adventures. Portland, here I come, and I want you to blow my mind.

I tend to make home wherever I go, a new city, someone else's home, a hotel, or my childhood home that no longer feels like my own. I find the things that are familiar, and imbue the place with my energy. I make it mine. So when I got here on Thursday night, arriving to an empty house, I did what I do. I got comfortable. I unpacked my traveling pantry. I started preparing food.

One of the things on my food preparation to-do list was making cupcakes. Since my mom had opted to make cupcakes instead of a wedding cake, I wanted to make some tasty morsels I could eat. Plus, my childhood friend Emily would also be at the party, and she was diagnosed with Celiac disease a few years ago. I knew I'd have someone else as excited about GF dinner and dessert options as I was, so I wanted to bring something awesome. I had been kicking around an apple cupcake idea for a while, inspired by the bounty of autumn's harvest. So I dug in. I made the cupcakes. I decided on grated apple and plump currants for natural sweetness, and anise seeds and cardamom for a spicy twist, and just a little maple syrup. I tried one fresh from the oven, and was way impressed. They were STELLAR. The crumb was light, the flavor was fantastic, and my baking aficionado grandma gave it a big thumbs up.

Then there was the issue of the frosting. Vegan, refined sugar-free, soy-free, corn-free frosting is tricky - there aren't a ton of options out there for a creamy frosting base. I've come up with a few good options in the past, and decided to make a frosting using soaked cashews, coconut oil, and little maple syrup this time around. It tasted amazing, but was too thin. Two attempts at thickening this frosting resulted in something about the consistency of gooey caulk. It was probably the most horrific vegan frosting disaster on the face of the planet. Intrigued, I decided to play with the substance formerly known as frosting, and found it to be a bit like Gak, the nasty goo marketed to children by Nickelodean back in the early 1990s. It was horrifying! Seriously, this stuff wouldn't even wash off my hands or out of the bowl. Totally not edible. Humbling.

So, I rethought the frosting and decided on soaked raisins with unsoaked cashews. It was a mighty victory. Thick and rich, smooth and glossy, spicy and flavorful, this frosting received a big thumbs up from my entire family. I wanted to eat it straight off the spoon. Yum. It spread on my cooled cupcakes like a dream, and looked wonderful. I had just enough frosting leftover for a little treat later on.
I put my platter of cupcakes out on the table amongst the other cupcakes, labeling them as gluten free, vegan, sugar free. As the night went on, my cupcakes slowly started disappearing off the platter. I finished my dinner, and went over to grab a cupcake off the plate. I sat down, and unwrapped the muffin paper. It peeled away easily, leaving a perfectly intact cupcake. I dug in with my fork, impressed with the texture. Even after sitting for day, it was still moist, not at all dry or crumbly. Then I tasted it.
I felt my eyes widen. The combination of frosting and cake was amazing. This cupcake was like a real cupcake.

People raved about them, surprised at what WASN'T in them and how good they were. I was honestly shocked at how good they were - I expected them to be good, but they were WAY better than I ever imagined. I think this recipe would make an amazing layer cake, something I plan to try for the next party I attend. And not only is this recipe super delicious, and really easy, it is also lower in sugar and fat than many cupcake recipes out there. Grated apple lends amazing sweetness and moisture to the cupcakes, which use only 1/4 c maple syrup and 1/3 cup oil for the batch. And the frosting contains no added sugar, sweetened only with raisins, and tastes amazing.

Most importantly, my celiac friend Emily was ecstatic. She had left her house for the first time in a few years without food in her purse. We were both able to enjoy a dinner of hot shredded beef, roasted vegetables with pesto, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, Chex mix with chocolate, cashews, raisins, and coconut (another one of yesterday's inventions - have you seen the GF rice Chex?!?!?!?), and an awesome cupcake for dessert. We both had fun at the party, were able to take part in the food, and know that we were both safe from the danger of having a reaction.

It was amazing to celebrate my brother's marriage, and at the end of the night, I felt so fortunate to have spent the day with so many people I love: my family, old friends, beloved teachers from high school, family friends, and extended family members I don't see very often. I hadn't seen some of these people in over 5 years, and it was such a blessing to reconnect with them. It is these people that truly make this place my home - not the house that I my parents live in, not the streets I used to walk, or the places I used to hang out. In a place that sometimes feels so foreign to me, I found familiarity in the love of those I hold dear to my heart, and was thrilled to be able share in friendship, fun, and food with them.

I went a little overboard on the food and fun, actually, and ate A LOT of the raisin-laden frosting, two cupcakes, probably half the batch of my chocolate Chex mix, an apple, and now I'm on a crazy sugar cocoa buzz. While it may not be a lot of sugar for an average person, it was a lot of sugar for me, who normally lives in a very limited sugar world. I haven't been this hyper in about a year and a half, and my body is freaking out from all the sugar as I write. I feel hot, my heart is racing, and I can't relax enough to sleep. Oops. I think my liver is seriously going to rebel for the next few days. So, the next week or two I think I need to slip back into a cleansing, anti-Candida diet so I don't relapse into all those yeasty symptoms. Oh well, c'est la vie, a cleanse is always a good idea anyway, right? 
So, go forth and make cupcakes. Share them with those you love, and find home in laughter, memories, and friendship.


yield: 12 cupcakes and 1 1/2 c frosting

Apple Cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 c shredded, peeled apples
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1 c sorghum flour
  • 3/4 c tapioca flour
  • 1/4 c quinoa flour or amaranth flour (sorghum flour could probably be substituted, but I haven't tried this)
  • 2 T arrowroot starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tsp anise seeds
  • 2 Tbsp flaxmeal + 6 T hot water
  • 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/3 c melted coconut oil, light olive oil, or other light tasting oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and prepare muffin tin with cupcake papers.
  2. Mix together flax meal and hot water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Sift together flours in a medium bowl, then add baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and spices, and briskly whisk until well combined.
  4. Beat flax mixture until light. Add coconut milk, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
  5. Peel and shred apple, and measure currants. Set aside.
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring gently to moisten. Stir in shredded apple and currants, and mix only until combined.
  7. Transfer batter to muffin tin and into muffin papers. Place in oven immediately and bake 22-25 minutes until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven. Let muffins cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Store in the refrigerator up to one day before frosting/serving.
  9. Frost with Raisin Cashew Frosting (recipe below), garnishing each with a raisin. Serve immediately.
Raisin Cashew Frosting:
  • 3/4 c raisins + water for soaking (for a boozy twist, try using a little spiced rum instead...)
  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Place raisins in bowl and just barely cover with water. Let soak 1-2 hours.
  2. Put cashews in blender and blitz until they have turned into a fine powder. Add raisins, salt, cardamom, and just a little bit of the soaking water, and blitz to mix.
  3. Add the melted coconut oil bit by bit, and blend on high until mixture is smooth and thick, adding additional soaking water as necessary.
  4. Transfer to a bowl, and chill for 1-2 hours in the fridge before using.



Beet Sauce a.k.a. Tomato-Free Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce (gluten free, vegan, tomato free)

I used to eat marinara sauce straight from the jar, with a spoon. Cold.

Seriously, I love red sauce, pasta sauce, marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce, whatever you want to call it. I loved it far more than I ever loved pasta - most of the time, pasta always made me feel like crap. These days, I understand that it was the wheat allergy and gluten intolerance rearing its ugly head. But a good red sauce? Like heaven. I'd used it on anything from vegetables to rice to baked potatoes, and forget the pasta all together. Spaghetti sauce on spelt toast with A LOT of garlic powder was a common late night snack. And my vegetable sautées doused with spaghetti sauce were, if I do say so myself, EPIC.

Anyway, for reasons beyond my control and understanding, I developed an allergy to tomatoes, in both the IgG and the IgE reactions. Damn.

So, I've been off tomatoes now for about a year and a half. I truly miss tomatoes. And they seem to be in almost everything - avoiding tomatoes can be a real pain in the a**, especially this time of year. There are gorgeous tomatoes everywhere in late summer, you almost trip over them walking down the street, and I used to relish in the bounty of all of them back in the day. I used to eat tomatoes like apples, straight from my hand, juices running down my chin. I'd keep bowls of cherry tomatoes on my counter and eat them like candy. Big ones I'd stuff them with tuna salad and bake until warm and bubbly. A big juicy tomato slice with a fried egg is amazing (it also turns out I'm allergic to eggs). Tomatoes, avocado, sprouts and blob of hummus? Divine. I'd put tomatoes in chili, in soups, in kitchiri. The all-time favorite? Caprese salad, perfect in its simplicity.

And of course, marinara sauce. The good stuff.

Oh yeah, and ketchup. Annie's Organic Ketchup, specifically. I used to be quite the condiment freak, and would go through a bottle of ketchup pretty darn quick.

These days, I've learned to move past tomatoes, substituting other things for them in recipes, and giving up some recipes all together. I even came up with a pretty amazing fermented beet ketchup/BBQ sauce that I'm working on a hard and fast recipe for. But my heart still aches for them. I yearn to pick a warm, ripe tomato off the vine, feel its heaviness in my hand, and imagine how I will use it.

In my tomato elimination process, I came across a recipe for beet sauce in Paul Pitchford's Healing with Whole Foods. My love for beets is just as deep as my love for tomatoes, so I was immediately hooked. Beets make a great pasta sauce that works perfectly in lasagna (Tinkyada rice lasagna noodles are awesome), is beautiful over spaghetti squash or pasta, makes a good pizza sauce, and is awesome dumped over vegetables. Dip your favorite GF bread into it, and it will take you back to breadsticks and red sauce. Tomato free spaghetti sauce is awesome.
This is the version that has started emerging from my kitchen, adapted from Paul's with a few small changes here and there. Seasoned with the classic savory blend of onions, celery, and carrots, chopped garlic, and garden-fresh basil and parsley, it will made your mouth happy and serve as the perfect substitute for pasta sauce in just about anything. Tomorrow for lunch, I'm eating it dumped over some spaghetti squash and local ground beef...yum. Does it taste like tomato-based sauce? No. That's because it isn't made of tomatoes, it is made of beets. Nothing else tastes like tomatoes other than tomatoes. But it is good on its own for what it is; rich and thick and chunky, sweet and savory, and deeply ruby red. Lovely, flavorful, versatile, and fresh.
So, head over to your local farmer's market, buy yourself a big bag of beets, some carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and the last of summer's parsley and basil, and whip yourself up a batch. Support local agriculture and your tomato nostalgia at the same time. Heck, even if you can eat tomatoes, this stuff is still great. And it freezes like a dream, so eat some fresh and freeze or can the rest for leftovers. With sauce like this, tomato free living just ain't that bad.

Beet Sauce a.k.a. Tomato-Free Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce

adapted from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford 

yield 8 cups
2 lbs beets (about 8 mediumish beets)
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
small handful fresh basil, minced
small handful fresh parsley, minced
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 cups filtered water
1 Tbsp kuzu starch dissolved in 2 T water
1/2 tsp salt
a few turns of fresh cracked pepper

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Leaving skins on, wash beets, and place in pot. Cover and let boil until beets are tender.

While beets boil, wash and chop vegetables.  Drain beets and place in a bowl of cold water, adding fresh cold water as needed. Let sit 10 minutes.

While beets cool, heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Add onions, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and celery, and saute for a 5 more minutes. Then add carrots, and saute for a few more.

Once beets have cooled, slide off their skins. If having a hard time, run under cool water.Coarsely chop peeled beets and place in blender in batches with 4 cups of water. Blend until thick and almost totally smooth.

Add beet puree to sauteed vegetables, turn up heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and let simmer a few minutes. Add dissolved kuzu, and stir until thickened. Add basil and parsley, and salt and pepper to taste, let cook on low for a few minutes to season through.  Serve immediately or cool and freeze.
  • add cooked ground beef, turkey, bison, or chicken for meat sauce, or some kind of crumbled soy product if you do soy
  • add sauteed spinach, kale, arugula, or chard
  • add other vegetables, like mushrooms or zucchini
  • for a puttanesca style sauce, try adding red chili flakes, capers, anchovy paste, and extra olive oil
  • add a splash of red or white wine
  • add additional herbs as desired
  • add grated cheese if you do dairy



Sunflower Butter Cookies (gluten free, vegan, nut free, low carb)

I'm back!

My technological delay is over. While my stolen, new computer is still MIA, I now have my old computer back, newly repaired and faster than ever. So, I am ready and rarin' to be back in the blogosphere! I have some recipe catch up work to do, starting with this awesome sunflower butter coconut flour cookie recipe I made a couple weeks back.

I desperately wanted to make cookies a couple weekends ago. I was going to the first rehearsal for the orchestra I'm playing in for the annual Barebones Halloween show here in Minneapolis. This Halloween show is spectacular - it is a big, radical theater production that takes place down in Hidden Falls Regional Park, put on through the Bedlam Theater. The performance is outside in the park at night, always involves crazy life-size puppets and awesome music, and everyone attending sits on long rows of hay bales. After seeing last year's performance, I knew I had to play in the orchestra this year.

So, of course, meant I wanted to bring food to our first rehearsal, and I wanted it to be something good. What I really wanted was the peanut butter cookies from my childhood. I wanted the cookies to be soft and dense and rich. But I wanted them low carb. And I wanted them low in sugar. And most importantly, I wanted them peanut free. So, I searched around online, and found a great recipe for agave-sweetened, low-carb peanut butter cookies on the blog Cookies and Candids: Vegan Baking. Switch out the peanut butter with Sunbutter, change a couple other things, and - voila! - amazing cookies! These were great, everyone loved them. They are super moist and dense, but not too heavy, and taste just like peanut butter cookies. They are wildly high in fiber, pretty high in protein, and surprisingly low carb. Hurrah!

The two bummer things about these cookies?
  1. These are expensive cookies. Coconut flour and Sunbutter are on the pricy side. But, they make a ton.
  2. They turned totally moldy in about 24 hours. I left them out unrefrigerated, and between the summer heat and the cookies' moist texture, what appeared to me mold formed before I knew it and I had to throw away a good portion of the batch. Thankfully, they were still okay to take to the rehearsal, but shortly thereafter, they were kind of green (update on 3/7/10 - SEE FOLLOW UP AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST FOR AN EXPLANATION, it wasn't mold at all, just clorophyll!). So keep these refrigerated until ready to serve (let warm to room temperature though before serving). Then freeze whatever doesn't get eaten right away. I did put some in the freezer, and they thawed well.

SUNFLOWER BUTTER COOKIES (gluten free, nut free, vegan, low carb)
yields around 45 cookies

1 1/3 c coconut flour
3/4 c quinoa flour
1 c tapioca flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c applesauce
1 c Sunbutter (or other nut/seed butter of choice)
10 prunes
1 + 1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 c agave nectar
2 T softened coconut oil
handful toasted whole sunflower seeds
handful whole flax seeds

Preheat oven to 350* and line baking sheets with parchment.

Place prunes in a saucepan or microwaveable bowl, and add 1 c water. Heat until prunes have softened, then remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.  Blend prunes with soaking water until totally smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine prune puree, applesauce, sunbutter, vanilla, agave, and coconut oil, and mix until smooth.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, adding additional 1/2 c of warm water as needed. When almost completely mixed, add sunflower seeds and flax seeds, and stir a few more times.

Form into a 1 1/2 ball, place on baking sheet, then flatten slightly with a fork. These cookies will not spread.
Bake at 350º for about 15 minutes, or until firm and golden. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR AND FREEZE ANY LEFTOVERS.