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Recipe: Honey-sweetened Gluten-free Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Recipe: Honey-sweetened Gluten-free Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
Gluten-Free Mesquite Chocolate Cookies with Sea Salt
It's happened: winter is slowly setting in on Minnesota. Last week Saturday the yards and streets took on the familiar white layer of fresh snow. Within a few days the snow had melted, which was good - the abundance of fallen leaves on the grass dyed the snow a strange yellow color. It looked like packs of dogs descended upon the neighborhood and lifted their legs on every inch of snow. Hopefully everyone will rake up their leaves so that unfortunate discoloration doesn't repeat itself when another inevitable snowfall arrives.

 

Yellow snow aside, I experienced a surprise flutter of excitement with those first flakes. My relationship with Minnesota winters is historically a tenuous one, but I feel differently this year. My body is healthier and stronger, cold weather doesn't seem like torture, and I'm actually looking forward to talking walks on bright winter days and hearing the crunch of snow underfoot. I just moved back into the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis last week, my favorite neighborhood, and the beauty of this place in the winter is making me giddy. This is my third time living in Seward since moving to Minneapolis in 2004, and I feel like I'm returning home. Literally - I lived in a duplex directly across the street  from 2005-2006 and lived in another duplex two blocks north from 2007-2009. Seward is the kind of neighborhood where people bike and walk all year round, where the ice rink in the park is regularly used, and where freshly made snow people line the front yards. The neighborhood is nestled between the Mississippi River and railroad lines, and the quaint houses reflect its modest, blue-color upbringing. My favorite food co-op is three blocks from my front door, bike paths abound, a community park and a Montessori school are on the other side of my block, and people wave when they pass each other in cars. It's wonderful. Once the snow falls again, I'll take some photos. 

Recipe: No-Bake Sweet Potato Pie (gluten-free, vegan, low-sugar, grain-free, nut-free)

No-Bake Sweet Potato Pie

The original recipe for this pie was published in my 2011 recipe calendar A Year to Eat Freely. It was a really fun recipe project that I had for sale through Etsy. While I won't be publishing another calendar for 2012, I really enjoyed the learning process and experience of creating the first calendar. 

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe and wanted to share it with you. It is different than a traditonal sweet potato pie that is baked, but has its own distinctive flavor and texture that is very good. It would be perfect for your holiday table. 

No-Bake Sweet Potato Pie

yield 1 8- or 9-inch pie

Filling

  • 3 cups cooked sweet potato puree (from about 2 1/2 pounds sweet potato, or 3 large)
  • 1 1/4 milk full fat coconut milk or other non-dairy milk (a fattier milk like nut milk or hemp milk is better)
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar powder or 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, ghee, or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 30-40 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Crust

  • 3 tablespoon finely ground chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar, or more to taste
  • 25-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3-4 tablespoons apple cider or apple juice

Bake the Potatoes

Heat oven to 400° F. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Prepare Crust

While sweet potatoes cool, prepare crust. Lightly toast seeds and coconut in batches in a large dry sauté pan over medium heat, stirring often until lightly golden then remove from heat and let cool. Place cooled seeds and coconut in food processor, along with ground chia seeds, cinnamon, and salt, and grind until fine. Whisk together apple cider, maple syrup/honey/agave nectar, stevia, and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour into food processor with machine running, until it forms a sticky dough, stopping to scrape sides as needed. Add more apple cider/juice by the tablespoon if mixture is too dry. Let sit for 5 minutes. 

Lightly oil a glass pie plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the seed mixture, then press remaining mixture firmly on the bottom and sides of the pie plate, smoothing with wet fingers or a silicon spatula, forming a thick, even crust. Set aside as you prepare filing. 

Prepare Filling

Scoop out sweet potato flesh and place in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. If too thick or dry, add a small amount of apple juice, apple cider, or water by the tablespoon until mixture moves smoothly. Scoop out 3 cups to use for filling, and save any extra for other recipes. 

Sprinkle agar agar or gelatin over 1/4 cup of coconut milk and sit for 5 minutes, then whisk vigorously. While it sits, bring remaining 1 cup of milk to a boil in a saucepan. Add whisked gelatin/agar agar liquid and stir while simmering, whisking until fully dissolved, about 3-4 minutes. Add hot milk mixture to a food processor blender along with sweet potato and remaining filling ingredients. Process until totally smooth, adjusting sweetener to taste.

Assemble the Pie

Spread filling evenly into prepared crust, smoothing with a spatula, then sprinkling top of pie with reserved seed mixture. Place in the refrigerator and cool for at least 4 hours, until filling is firm. Remove from refrigerator and let sit out for 15-20 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Salt, Two Ways

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Salt, Two Ways

Vanilla Salt

There are all kinds of fancy salts out there for you to blow your paycheck on. Confession: I own many of them

Thankfully, one of my favorite salts is one that I make at home. Vanilla salt couldn't be easier to prepare, and the end result is lovely. I have two methods for creating vanilla salt, yielding different yet equally delightful results. I am sharing both methods with you; try each one and see which fits you best. I use my vanilla salt in baked goods, with fruit, over roasted sweet potatoes or squash, sprinkled over chocolaty desserts, or with roasted or grilled meats (helloooooo pork and chicken). I think you'll like it too. If you decorate the jar with a cute label and a bit of ribbon, you have a wonderful homemade gift. 

Vanilla beans are über-expensive if you buy them one-by-one or in small quantities. The trick is to buy a big bag and split the cost with a friend. A fellow foodie and I split the cost of this 1/2 pound bag of vanilla beans. We each ended up with about 30 beans for only about $13 per person. Sweet deal, right? 

Recipe: Cabbage Apple Slaw (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free, ACD)

Recipe: Cabbage Apple Slaw (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free, ACD)

Cabbage-Apple Slaw

Simple slaws are ideal for every season of the year. They are crunchy and light, yet satisfying and filling, and endlessly adaptable to a variety of seasonal produce. Despite this, my favorite time of year for slaws is late summer and fall, when farmers markets are bursting with fresh, crisp cabbages. The sweet, glistening, unblemished leaves tempt me from every vendor table, and inevitably, I go home with a weighty cabbage in my market basket.

I was inspired to combine my beloved green cabbage with another locally grown favorite, the spectacular Honeycrisp apple. The Honeycrisp was developed by the University of Minnesota's Horicultural Research Center in the 1970s, and has won a devoted following of fans. There are a number of wonderful orchards in the Minnesota and Western Wisconsin that grow this apple, and every year I anticipate the arrival of locally grown Honeycrisps at my farmers market and co-op. The flavor is sweet like honey and slightly tart, and it has a marvelously crisp, juicy texture that is, in my opinion, the sign of a perfect apple. Equally good for eating raw or baking, Honeycrisp is one of my favorite apples, hands down. 

The combination of sweet, fresh cabbage, sweet and tart apple, plump golden raisins, toasted caraway, and a hint of nutmeg in this slaw is magic. It only takes minutes to prepare, and it holds up in the fridge for 2 days without becoming soggy. 

Oh me oh my, autumn tastes so good. 

Recipe: Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Cranberry Spice Muffins and Sorghum-Millet Flour Blend

Recipe: Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Cranberry Spice Muffins and Sorghum-Millet Flour Blend

I've been on a gluten-free banana bread kick ever since I made this bread. And by "kick" I really mean it - I've made a loaf nearly every week for the last 2 1/2 months. I finally encouraged myself to depart from the loaf and venture back into the world of the muffin. Inspired by an overabundance of bananas in our fruit bowl, I came up with this tasty vegan banana muffin recipe that features one of my favorite seasonal ingredients: cranberries. No gums, only a wee bit of starch, and no refined sugars. Hooray!

Conveniently, cranberries are this month's featured ingredient for the Sweet or Savory Kitchen Challenge, hosted by Diet Dessert and Dogs blogger Ricki Heller and me. What better reason to share my muffin recipe on the blog, right? 

This recipe also features a great homemade flour blend, a mixture of sorghum, millet, white rice, and arrowroot starch (also known as arrowroot flour). Ever since Shauna posted her Gluten-Free Whole Grain Muffins and the whole grain flour mix on her blog last year, I've been making many of my baked goods with various blends of flours and absolutely loving the results. It seemed she cracked the code to making a well-balanced flour blend, and the versatility of her formula allows you to use whatever flours and starches you have on hand. Brilliant.