|Blueberry muffins, perfect for Fourth of July!|
|Blueberry muffins, perfect for Fourth of July!|
I spent a glorious weekend in San Luis Obispo, CA with some dear friends and got back yesterday feeling like a child who had to leave Disney early. I wanted to stay and explore the farmers markets more, discover more hidden restaurants with lovely, knowledgeable servers and chefs who take care and creativity to new heights. These are just a few of the wonderful memories I have of this weekend, along with my dear friend who will now be the pastry chef at the Dolphin Bay Resort. (I know, pastry chef and me, go figure. She’s a fabulous chef and I’ve learned so much from her about cooking over the years.)
|Spring Salad at Luna Red|
We ate lunch at Luna Red in downtown San Luis Obispo and had a brilliant, light, crunchy salad that was perfect for a warm Spring day in California. With the Greekfest right next door, the music made our day even more festive. The salad was filled with pea shoots, blood orange segments, carrots, radish, mint, a light citrus vinaigrette and a sprinkle of goat cheese. Couldn’t have asked for anything better. A glass of rose and a table full of good friends made the afternoon complete. I highly recommend the restaurant.
|The amazing selection of veggies at the farmers marke|
One booth at the farmers market caught my eye, of course, with their big Gluten Free Goodies sign. I couldn’t resist and bought a GF carrot cake muffin made with buckwheat and a delicious quinoa salad I’ll be recreating later this week. (attempting I should say). It was filling and had a beautiful mix of savory and sweet with roasted veggies (yummy roasted carrots) and pepitas. I ate it cold right out of the container. Oh yeah!
But first up, after eating what was the best carrot cake muffin I’ve ever had (including my gluten-eating days), I decided to try and make it at home. Since Daughter has now eliminated eggs from her diet, that makes things a little more difficult, but not impossible. I do have vegan friends who I know will enjoy these also. The muffins in CA were not vegan, so this is just a small change and more of a challenge. I searched the Internet and found this recipe at She Let Them Eat Cake.com for buckwheat carrot muffins. These are already vegan, which is a plus.
I modified the recipe a bit to my own tastes, but I would encourage you to try her recipe also. And if you can’t have some of the things I’ve added, feel free to eliminate what you want. I added the almond flour and GF oats for flavor, and added the splash of juice just because it looked a little thick. This may change based on your altitude and ingredients. If you add molasses, you may not need any more liquid. But I do like the oats for texture and flavor.
Gluten-Free & Vegan Buckwheat Carrot Muffins
1 & 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup GF oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups grated / shredded carrot (you could use zucchini too)
3/4 cup agave
1 mashed banana
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp ground flax combined with 9 tbsp hot water (or 3 eggs)
Splash of orange juice to loosen up the mixture if you need it.
1/2 cup golden raisins
|Eating these at my desk while I write this makes me very happy|
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with liners or grease with olive oil.
2. In a large bowl combine the first eight ingredients (dry).
3. Add shredded carrot to the dry ingredients and combine. In a medium-sized bowl combine agave, mashed banana, olive oil, and flax-hot water mixture. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add raisins last.
4. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to the touch.
These are quite good, and amazingly fluffy and not too dense, considering there is no egg in it. I’ve never used flax and hot water before and I was quite amused at the egg-white-like texture it creates. The mixture is quite thick and gummy before baking and that must be due to the flax mixture. What a find. I will certainly be trying this with other dishes and baked goods. This is my first attempt at gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free baking. So far, so good.
In retrospect, these could use just a little more sweetness so I think a bit of molasses and honey, or an orange glaze on top will make them just a touch sweeter and tasty. A bit of Tofutti cream cheese will make them sing for me in the morning with my tea. Try them and let me know what you think.
|The apples are ready|
It’s Autumn, which means it’s chilly and lovely outside. These days, I want to run out of the house and grab a cup of coffee and a muffin on my way. But finding a coffee shop that meets all my needs, in Arcadia, is not easy. There’s one on every corner, sure. Finding one that is local and not a chain is a little more difficult, but Arcadia seems to be doing pretty well in that department lately. But add to that the need to find something gluten free to munch on at any of these coffee shops and you’re pretty lucky if you can find something other than a piece of fruit. Sure, Starbucks had a wonderful gluten-free orange cake for a split second, but for some ridiculous reason they stopped carrying it. The only thing GF there is chips or fruit these days.
Enter the Coffee Lady Cafe. Nestled in a strip mall on the SW corner of 40th St. and Indian School Rd., this tiny shop offers great coffee (quick and hot in the morning), sandwiches and soup. After talking with the owner about the lack of GF choices, she ran out and bought Udi’s muffins, bagels and bread. Awesome! Now, a place to grab a muffin and coffee on the run.
Be aware that there is not a separate toaster at this time. Get your muffin or bagel microwaved and have them change gloves and surfaces when making sandwiches. They are still in the beginning stages of having GF products, but the owner is more than willing to work with the GF community and is receptive to all suggestions.
Stop by and say hello, grab a muffin and try the Creme Brulee coffee, yum.
|gluten-free lemon/chocolate-chip muffins|
For someone eating low carb, I’ve been posting a lot about muffins and pancakes lately. What’s the story with that? Well, quite simply, carbs are not your enemy. If you eat them in very little quantities, you can get away with just about anything. The secret to eating anything fattening (such as carbs, including sugar, grains, etc.) is to eat just a little. Don’t go overboard.
With that said, I had a craving to read a good book, grab a cup of tea and eat a warm muffin. I had everything but the muffin. Normally, I would grab an Udi’s Blueberry Muffin from the freezer, but Daughter made sure those are all gone. Second best thing is to make some. I use Authentic Foods Lemon Cake mix and doctor it up my way. Add the two eggs, 1/2 cup milk (I use rice milk) and 1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil) called for on the package. Add a little more vanilla, lemon juice and a handful of chocolate chips and fill about 24 mini muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes and viola! You have a lovely snack for that tea and good book.
Now find a comfy chair and relax. Just pace yourself and put a few in the freezer for the next time this craving strikes.
I’ve been making these for ages and just realized that I had never put the recipe up here. Somehow I thought I did, but I was wrong…what can I say? I came up with these after having one that was similar at Paradise Bakery. I decided to give it a try at home, make sure it’s gluten free, and create something simple. And, Dear Chef, as we all know, simple is better. The ingredients here are few and preparation is a cinch. That’s what makes it so nice. Whip these up in about 5 minutes, bake for 15 minutes and put them away for breakfast or lunch for the week. I calculated the calories for each one and it came out to about 85 per muffin-not bad. You can also use tiny muffin tins and make snack-sized muffins for a party or just for fun. Everyone will think you worked on them forever.
1 16 oz. bag of organic frozen spinach
4 egg whites
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbs grated parmesan
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Put spinach in a microwaveable bowl and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the liquid.
3. In the same bowl, add all other ingredients and mix well.
4. Spoon out mixture evenly into 12 muffin tins. (sprayed with nonstick spray)
5. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the oven and let them sit in the oven for about 5 minutes.
6. Remove muffins onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for just a few minutes. This will help them firm up a bit.
I’ve made these with many different kinds of cheese including Fontina, Swiss, Gouda, Mexican mix, and more. Use whatever cheese is your favorite and experiment to find what you like best. These are a great way to get protein and veggies, and my Daughter loves them. Mix it up with different veggies if you want, but the spinach always seems to be the best. I also added the Parmesan recently and it seems to give them a great, salty flavor.
I have finally found it…the elusive gluten-free muffin that tastes good. It’s like finding the holy grail. While shopping at Whole Foods yesterday, I came across a new brand of GF cake mix. Well, it’s new to me. I don’t know how new it is in the world. Since I don’t have a Whole Foods close by, I have to make an effort to head out there. And I do it just about every 2-3 months really. It’s not that far, I just never head out in that direction very often.
Anyway, this is the mix–Authentic Foods Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Mix.
I found this at the Whole Foods market on Tatum and Shea in Scottsdale, for those of you in the area. Of course, I had to modify the recipe a bit. Don’t we always? I just can’t leave things alone. I’ve been craving chocolate chip muffins for ages, well since I went GF. I haven’t had a good muffin since then and it’s been killing me. Sure, there are some good donuts, but nothing satisfies like a good muffin with your coffee in the morning.
As you can see, these muffins are moist, chewy, crunchy on the outside and lovely on the inside. Even my kids were praising them and I had to tell them to get their mits off of them. I may have to head out to Whole Foods again before the summer is out.
Of course, these are not low-fat or low-calorie, but on this diet sometimes I just crave something that I remember from the “good-old-days” when I used to eat anything without ever asking what was in it. These come really, really close.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Muffins
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup half-and-half (minus 2 TBS)
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 tsp vanilla extract (GF of course)
1 package Authentic Foods vanilla cake mix
1/2 package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
pinch of sugar for top of muffins (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk eggs, olive oil, half-and-half, orange juice and vanilla.
Add cake mix and pudding mix and stir. Be careful not to over mix. Batter will be thick.
Add chips and mix quickly.
Place batter in greased or sprayed muffin tins. FIll to about 3/4 full. Sprinkle a small amount of sugar on top if you want a crunchy top to your muffin.
Let batter sit for 5 minutes before baking.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. If they’re brown on top, they are probably done.
Let stand for 5 minutes to cool, if you can wait that long.
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