Gluten and Dairy Free Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Happy Muffins_CloseUp

I have a real love hate relationship with bananas.

I love the taste and the port-a-blility of bananas. For as long as I can remember, bananas have been a staple in my diet. Back in the days before so many kids were diagnosed with peanut allergies, you could guarantee I’d have a banana in my school lunchbox 2-3 times a week. Usually it was in the form of a peanut butter and banana sandwich but just as often I’d find the fruit (which is actually a berry) as is.

As I entered by teen years and my love for cooking, especially baking, grew, the more I came to love bananas. I mean, who doesn’t love Banana Bread, Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies or Warm Campfire Banana Sundaes? Ever since I bought my first cookbook (D.C.I. Music Department’s Favourite Recipes) I have been on the hunt for the very best banana bread recipe. If you were to look though my cookbook collection, you would definitely find that the pages that have banana flavoured bakery recipes are the most splattered, smudged and well used. I thought I had finally found “The One”. Then I went gluten and dairy free and the search has since resumed.

I think of myself as someone who tries to stay active and I take a lot of pride in eating healthy so I love that bananas are an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, potassium, B6 and Vitamin C.

Bananas promote good digestion and mood balancing. Good for me as I am recovering from intestinal issues and also good because I often take the drug Prednisone which can cause depression as a side effect.

I know, so far this post sounds like a love fest for bananas. So where’s the hate part???

I hate that when the warmer weather finally comes to southern Ontario, my bananas get ripe faster than I can eat them…. I know, it’s not a big reason…but  it made for an interesting opening line.

Anyway, I woke up this morning and realized that I had three bananas that had got to the point of no return and just had to be baked into something. So, my plan for showcasing the fresh Ontario strawberries, now available in my area will have to wait.

I give you Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Oatmeal Banana Chip Muffins Mis En Plas

Oatmeal Banana Chip Muffins Mis En Plas

1 ¼ cup all purpose gluten free flour (my blend or your favourite)
¼ cup high protein gluten free flour blend (my blend or more of your favourite)
½  cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½  tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp double acting baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup melted coconut or canola oil
1 egg
¾ cup gluten free oats
¾ cup dairy free chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Grease or line 18 regular size muffin cups

In small bowl, combine oats and chocolate chips, set aside.
In large bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Whisk to combine.  Add all wet ingredients to dry. Mix well.
Fold in the oat/chocolate mixture.
Fill muffin cups to within one third of the top. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Store in airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month

Fresh Out Of the Oven

Smilin' Mmuffins

Smilin’ Mmuffins

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Gluten Free Flour Part 2

Hallelujah, it’s Wednesday!

Last week, in  All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Part 1  I posted about my favourite go-to  gluten free all purpose flour recipe.

I also mentioned that it was one of my two favourite recipes, implying, of course that there is a second favourite recipe.  Gluten Free Higher Protein Blend All Purpose Flour

This is a great blend for  tea and yeast breads, cakes and muffins. I use it as the main flour and in addition to my All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. Basically any recipe where I want to have a chewier, more bread like texture, I add some of this mix.  I regularly add some to almost all my muffin recipes and I even add a bit to my waffle recipes, if I plan to use the waffles for sandwiches.

As with my All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend, it is key to use a fine grind of brown rice flour. Brown rice is a good source of protein and delivers a better flavour and more nutrients than white rice flour, getting a fine grind provides a smooth texture. In addition to the brown rice flour, I use quinoa and chickpea flours as both are also good sources of protein.

Gluten Free Higher Protein Blend All Purpose Flour

tapioca starch
brown rice flour
potato starch
quinoa flour
chickpea flour
xanthan gum

Measure ingredients into a large bowl, in order  listed. By putting the tapioca starch on the bottom, the other ingredients will help keep this very light “flour” from “poofing up” all over the place. With a large whisk, thoroughly blend all ingredients. Store in an air tight container and refrigerate.

Yesterday, in my post Daily Prompts: Red Pill Blue Pill I included a photo of these muffins.

Today I give you the recipe:

Wake Me Up! Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Espresso Muffins

1 1/4 cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1/4 cup Gluten Free Higher Protein Blend All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup espresso or strong brewed coffee, cooled
1/2 cup rice milk, or other dairy free milk
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips
muffin cup liners

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In medium size bowl, combine first six ingredients, whisk to combine. Add in all the wet ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips.  Scoop batter into lined muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into centre of muffin comes out clean, approx. 20 min for large muffins, 10 minutes for mini muffins.

This batch will yield about 18 large muffins. Store in an air tight container 2-3 days.  These muffins, wrapped individually,  freeze very well.

Wake Me Up! Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Espresso Muffins

Wake Me Up! Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Espresso Muffins

Happy Gluten & Dairy Free Cranberry Quinoa Cookies

To start today’s post off I’d like to apologize for the unexpected hiatus last week. I mentioned in my earlier post “In The Beginning Part 2” that I suffer from sinus polyps. Often I am treated with Prednisone, which is a  (a type of anti inflammatory medication), to shrink the polyps. I can’t take over the counter anti-inflammatory meds (like Aspirin) because they cause my asthma to go into overdrive, so to speak. I also take a regular asthma medication, which contains some corticosteroid too, to prevent attacks. In addition to that, I take a nasal spray to keep my sinus passages open and (you guessed it) that contains a corticosteroid also. Who knew that taking three different medications all containing corticosteroids, at the same time, could cause an adverse reaction?? If you or someone you know requires this type of medication to feel better, please send them to this link at MedlinePlus . The list of medications that contain corticosteroids is long and by no means complete….you may have to read the teeny tiny fine print on the medication to find it, but it’s worth it because the list of symptoms of over use range from simple dry skin to convulsions to psychosis. The last thing my family wants is for me to suffer from that last symptom….I’ve seen waaaay to many episodes of C.S.I, Criminal Minds and Hannibal for their liking. >; )

Of course, now that I know this…I can take greater care of myself. : )

Ok now, let’s move on to more Dee’Lectable topics.

Now that I feel more or less myself, I am all about the baking, the gluten and dairy free baking, that is.
I’ve been playing with recipes like Lemon Tart Cookies (with a lime variation too!), lots of muffins, and I’ve even decided to resume my search for a good GF/DF bread.

Today I want to share a recipe that I’ve been playing with for more than a year. I was inspired by a recipe in the January 2012 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine for Cranberry Quinoa Cookies.  These are meant to be cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable.

Cranberry Quinoa Cookies
yield: Makes about 2 dozen

1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup fancy molasses
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1 cup gluten free oats, old-fashioned style
1 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered unsalted almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, both sugars, and molasses in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add eggs and extracts; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in quinoa, oats, cranberries, and almonds. Spoon dough in 2-tablespoon portions onto prepared sheets, spacing 1″ apart. Bake cookies until golden, 12–15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Gluten and dairy free cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable!

Gluten and dairy free cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable!

Fun, Nutritious, Portable Breakfast Style Cookies!

Fun, Nutritious, Portable Breakfast Style Cookies!

Back on the (Fitness) Wagon

Recently, in an attempt to shed the few pounds that I’ve  accumulated over the winter and firm up a few things, I’ve  intensified my workouts.

I’ve always been a bit of a fitness nut. I cycle. I run. I lift. I will do just about anything that involves physical activity, well, except maybe step classes…I don’t know why I can’t seem to get into them.  : S

Anyway, I’m sure it was little surprise to those who know me that I took up a “Squat Challenge” that had been circulating through my Facebook peeps. I’m currently up to 150 squats, in addition to the chest presses, the bicep curls, triceps “skull crushers and kickbacks, the shoulder work etc. Oh and I can’t forget my favourite; the spin classes I attend each week.

Needless to say, I’ve been feelin’ the burn. I’ve also been feeling hungry.

Trying to keep good quality, nutrient dense food at the ready for after a workout session used to be really easy. Before I went off gluten and dairy, I’d keep a bunch of protein bars on hand for post workout noshing.  These days I have to put a bit more thought into it. I always have a stash of fruit and nuts but sometimes bananas and almonds aren’t enough. Often I do my workout after 4pm so that by the time I’m done, I’m famished and likely to put just about anything in my mouth. So, I’ve been stocking my fridge with prepared nummies that can easily be tossed with some leftover rice, greens or into a wrap.

This is a list of what’s in my fridge right now:

Hard boiled eggs
Shredded Chinese cabbage
Artichoke hearts, tossed in olive oil and kosher salt, roasted
Homemade guacamole

Sweet potatoes, skin on, tossed in olive oil and kosher salt, roasted
roasted sweet potatoes

Black beans, simmered in chicken broth and dried Ancho peppers
Ancho Mayo
Ancho Mayo
Homemade corn tortillas
If you’ve never made your own corn tortillas you gotta try. They are so easy and full of amazing flavour.
Check out this video
http://allrecipes.com/video/3119/corn-tortillas/detail.aspx?prop24=RD_VideoTipsTricks
Make up a batch and keep ‘em in the fridge. Throw one in a pan for a minute to warm, then fill.

What do you keep on hand for  gluten /dairy free post workout munching?

It’s a Big Ol’ Smelly World : )

One of my main motives for starting this blog was to share info about living a gluten and dairy lifestyle. My secondary hope was to connect with more people who, like me, suffer from chronic nasal polyps. I am still looking for that piece of my personal puzzle that will allow me to breathe and taste and smell without relying on meds to keep my polyps at bay. Removing gluten and dairy from my diet has been a huge step in the right direction for me. However, my doctor recently put me back on Prednisone to shrink the polyps…again. L

It’s been a while since my introduction to Prednisone. When it was first prescribed for me, it helped a lot and I got my sense of smell back almost immediately… but I think I’ve developed a tolerance for it. The last few times I’ve taken it, it didn’t work as well. The polyps shrank, but not as much and I didn’t get my sense of smell back. I have been worried that the surgeries may have left me with scar tissue or something that might prevent my sense of smell from ever coming back.

So, this time my doctor and I agreed to increase the dose. Now, I’m very careful to listen to my body when I take this drug. I find that there are a number of side effects that surface while I’m on it.

Have you ever looked through a telescope or a pair of binoculars before they were fully in focus? That’s kind of what life feels like to me most days.

When my sinuses are inflamed and full of polyps my sense of smell is gone and my sense of taste is diminished. My ability to hear is affected.  When I sing, I loose half my range because there’s nowhere for the sound to resonate. I put away those songs, just like I  put away a favourite sweater when the weather turns warm.  I compensate for these things by turning up the volume, only singing in my low register and eating intensely flavourful foods.

But when my sinuses clear, it’s like everything comes back into focus. I hear how loud the birds are out side my window at 4:30 in the morning. (Crazy birds!)

When I sing, I get to go back to songs that are like old friends I’ve been missing and I’m able to hit the high notes and hear the harmonies again. I can smell my morning coffee. Very strong =)

But most of all, it’s being able to smell and taste delicate flavours again that bring me tears of absolute joy.

The smell of bananas; the delicate flavour of artichokes that have been slow roasted, the sweetness in a fresh, perfectly hard boiled egg; how amazingly green a sugar snap pea tastes,  the intoxicating aroma of the whole vanilla beans I keep for special recipes and  chocolate, OMG, chocolate!

These are the things I crave and want to be able to enjoy all the time. These smells and flavours are like my drug. When I can smell, I’ll walk around just breathing deeply, trying to enjoy as many smells as I can because I’ve learned that this probably won’t last.

My dinner last night was a plate of simple, delicately flavoured bites;

Artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes and lemon slices, tossed with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, roasted together until the tomatoes became soft and the lemons started to caramelize combined with  torn red leaf lettuce, wedges of hard boiled egg, some blanched sugar snap peas, some finely diced sundried tomato and a little dressing of mayonnaise seasoned with saffron and garlic.

Heaven

Dyson and the Omelet

There was a time, not so long ago, when my typical weekend mornings involved preparing a big breakfast of fresh fruit salad, bacon, sausages and freshly made waffles (gluten and dairy free, of course) to feed my hungry gang. My kids were fairly early risers. The youngest would trundle, down to the kitchen, still looking sleepy, around 7 in the morning. Then one by one, the others would drift down by about 10, just in time to help set the table. That was before my children started hitting their teen years.

Over the last few years, breakfast slowly turned into early brunch, served by about 11am to accommodate the sleepy-heads. When early brunch morphed into late brunch that didn’t finish until after 1 in the afternoon, I stopped cooking for the masses on weekend morning for fear I’d never leave the kitchen. :S

The current routine around my home on weekend mornings is that everyone fends for themselves for breakfast and /or lunch. I just provide plenty of options.

One Sunday morning few weeks back, I was sitting in my kitchen, enjoying a rice & coconut milk cappuccino when my 16 yr old son, Dyson asked if he could make himself an omelet for breakfast.

(Now, I have, on occasion, been told that I tend to behave a tad bit possessive about my kitchen. I’m not fully convinced but I am trying to be more aware of my behavior…)

I quickly told to myself that my first born was probably going to be leaving the nest sooner rather than later and I want to make sure he has enough confidence in the kitchen that he’ll be able to eat well. I figured, if I played my cards right, this could be a great teaching/bonding opportunity. In my most easy going mom voice, I said “Sure!”

Dyson began rummaging through the fridge and came up with a carton of eggs, several containers holding a cornucopia of leftovers, a box of fresh mushrooms and a massive hunk of cheese. (Not everyone in my family needs to follow a gluten & dairy free diet. I’m the only one, which comes with a learning curve about cross contamination for everyone in my house. I’ll write a post about this soon!)

I just sat back, watched, waited and enjoyed my cappuccino. I didn’t have to wait long before the conversation to begin..

Dyson: “Can I use these onions?”
Me: “Sure”
Dyson: “What about the peppers and zucchini?”
Me: “Yep.”
Dyson: “Mushrooms?”
Me: “Go for it!” I know my kids all have pretty mature palates so by this time I was intrigued.
“What ‘cha makin’?”I said.
Dyson: “There’s this diner that makes this thing called a “Roman Omelet”. It’s pretty good.”
Me: Not wanting to seem too enthusiastic, I said “Cool”.

Dyson continued to poke around in the fridge. A left over mild Italian sausage and a bit of marinara sauce was added to the growing bevy of omelet fixin’s. I watched, proudly as Dyson’s mis-en-place took shape.

Me: “How does this all go together?”
Dyson: “I want to cook the mushrooms. Then I want to put all this stuff in the omelet.”
Me: “Sounds great. Feel free to be generous with the mushrooms, I bought extra.”
Dyson aka “The Mushroom Fan”: “Excellent.”

I watched while my son rummaged for a pan. He went for the cute heavy, orange enamel covered cast iron, a great little pan, but way too small for what he had in mind. I know my kids hate to be micro managed, so I had to tread delicately.

Me: “You gonna cook a bunch of mushrooms?”
Dyson:”Of course.”
Me: “I’d go for the big nonstick, they’ll sauté better if they’re not crowded. Let it get nice and hot before you add some oil.”
Dyson: “I’m gonna use butter.”
Me: “Ok, but add some olive oil to raise the smoking point so the butter won’t burn.” I could tell I was appealing to my son’s love of chemistry. “Then sauté them until they squeak. They’ll release their liquid and it’ll cook off so they won’t make your omelet soggy.”
Dyson: “Cool. Thanks.”

I continued to watch as Dyson swapped the pan and put it on the stove and fired up the burner. He proceeded to cook the ‘shrooms (exclaiming that they really do squeak-he thought I was joking). When they were done, he looked at me and asked “now what?”

Me: “grab a bowl to hold the mushrooms. Add all your other filling ingredients, except the cheese to the bowl so the heat of the mushrooms will take the chill off the other stuff and the omelet won’t take long to heat through. Then you can scramble your eggs in another bowl. When you’re ready to add the filling to the omelet, put the cheese down first to let it melt, then add the rest.”
Dyson: “Oh, ok.”

I watched with pride as my first born put together an omelet that looked worthy of any diner menu.
I sipped my cappuccino and thought, he’s gonna do just fine.

I Am Not Superwoman! (Don’t Hear Me Grrrrr!)

Ok, so in my last post I mentioned how much I love family dinners.

That’s mostly true.

However, thinking about it now, after having spent most of the four day long Easter Weekend bound to my kitchen in preparation of one Birthday Dinner on Saturday, followed by an Easter Dinner on Sunday, I should have been more specific. What I should have written was ‘I love the kind of unhurried, relaxed meals that allow me the time to sit and enjoy a good conversation with the company of my family’.  Sometimes, the dinner part doesn’t always include the relaxed part. This past weekend I got one good dinner and two of the other kind.

I should probably fill in a few details.

Recently, my Sweetie and I made the decision to curb household spending a bit. That’s not to imply that we’re frivolous with our cash. I tend to pinch my pennies so hard Her Majesty yelps. We’ve set a short term financial goal that requires a bit of belt tightening. For us that means no eating out or going to the movies for a little while. Not a huge sacrifice, right? Except that because we have birthdays that fall so close to holidays we make it a point to mark them as special, by going out for dinner to celebrate as a family. Which leaves me, the meal planner and grocery shopper, with a conundrum. How does one pull off a special birthday meal AND a holiday meal, on the same weekend without going crazy?

I can think of a few options:

  1. Teach my kids that goal setting, saving money or keeping your word are ideas that aren’t really all that important by taking everyone out for Sushi.
  2. Show my Step Daughter that birthdays are special and worthy of a night out…except when it’s hers and we want to save some cash by staying in and combining her celebration with one that’s been on the calendar FOREVER.
  3. Don’t celebrate Easter (aka as “The Spring Festival of Chocolate” to my gang)
  4. Make a Special Birthday Dinner one night and an Easter Celebration Dinner the next night.

I’m sure there are other options I could list, but they’re just not comin’ to me. I chose option 4.

One of these days I’m gonna have to admit to myself that I’m not Superwoman. I will come to grips with the fact that I am a mortal. I don’t have super strength or super stamina or even magic powers. I can’t bend time. I only stand 5’4” and need a ladder to reach the top shelf. One of these days, I will learn to ask for help. I will learn that it’s ok to say I can’t do everything, and that my personal best usually far exceeds what others expect. One day, I’ll ask them to help with the dishes.

Until then, I’m glad that I have a home library of cookbooks and ten years of saved magazines to turn to for inspiration.

Our Birthday Girl’s celebration was a full-on “Gluten and Dairy Extravaganza” (If she wants pasta and garlic bread and chocolate raspberry cake, she will have it! I won’t allow my food issues to keep my kid’s from their favourite foods. I just made myself a simple risotto. J) So I won’t bore you with those details.

Easter was a spiral ham I cooked with ginger ale and candied ginger (inspired by the cola cooked ham recipes from The South); garlic and thyme roasted mini potatoes; asparagus sautéed with lemon and for dessert: Baked Lemon Meringue with Lemon Curd and Raspberries.

I have a habit of cooking by feel and not always by recipe. The ham, potatoes and the asparagus dishes just kind of “came together”. If anyone wants the recipe just ask I will try to work it out for you. The exception is when I bake. I try not to mess with chemistry. That said, I am always looking for ways to mix and match elements to satisfy a craving. Initially I was going to make little meringue cookies sandwiched with lemon curd. By making one big open faced “cookie” slathered with the most amazing dairy free lemon curd, and topped with fresh raspberries, I was able to enlist the help of my lemon loving son to put the three elements together….for the price of licking the spoon afterwards. J (Every bit helps!)

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Lemon Meringue with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

For the Meringue:

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated

For the Lemon Curd:

3 egg yolks
1 egg
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated
½ cup lemon juice
pinch of salt

For the Garnish:

1 pint fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar,( to dust)

For the Meringue:

Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until white and foamy, about 1 minute; With mixer running, gradually add sugar in 3 additions, beating for 2 minutes between each addition. Beat until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes longer. Add powdered sugar; beat to blend, about 1 minute.

Spoon mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a spatula, spoon or pallet knife, spread meringue out into a 1” thick circle. Bake meringue until dry, about 3 1/2 hours. Let cool completely, about 1 hour (meringue will crisp as it cools). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead: Store in an airtight container at room temperature, between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.

For the Lemon Curd:

In a heatproof bowl, stir together the egg yolks, egg, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and an instant read thermometer reads 71°C/ 160°F.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface and refrigerate until set. ). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead.
Loosen curd with a spoon and spread over prepared meringue. Garnish with raspberries and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Next time, I’ll take my own advice and use the “do ahead” options!

Lemon Meringue with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

Lemon Meringue with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

Hope Everyone had a Happy Easter.