Whole Food Fridays 2-14-2014

Welcome to Whole Food Fridays! 

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Reader Favorites from Last Week:

Sugar Free Hot Chocolate Mousse from Grassfed Mama
Hot Chocolate Mousse

Super Food Breakfast Bars from Counting All Joy
Superfood Breakfast Bars

Grain Free Pancakes from A Mindful Mantra
Grain Free Pancakes (Small)

Want to participate? Here’s how to join:

  • Please link to your individual post, NOT your home page or a static blog party page.
  • Please provide a link back to Whole Food Fridays somewhere in the body of your post. 
  • Recipes that are gluten free and made with whole food ingredients are preferred, but not required. 
  • Your recipe or post does NOT have to be gluten free. 
  • Other posts for DIY, homemade, crafts, etc. are also welcome.
  • Please leave me a comment. I love hearing from you!
  • By linking to Whole Food Fridays, you acknowledge and allow Allergy Free Alaska, LLC to use your post photos in future Whole Food Fridays if your recipe or post is selected to be highlighted the following week. 

 ~Megan


Cookbook Review & Giveaway: Bare Root Sweets

I’m totally guilty of stalking pictures of food online. I was on Foodgawker one night doing just that – drooling over the beautiful recipes and food photography when I kept stumbling upon one gluten free & Paleo website in particular: Bare Root, authored by the incredibly sweet and talented Angela Gallardo. I was instantly blown away by Angela’s breathtaking photography and creativity. Angela’s recipes truly are unique, and her latest cookbook, Bare Root Sweets is a reflection of that uniqueness.

Bare Root Sweets

Bare Root Sweets is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to improve the quality and nutrition of their desserts. The recipes are grain-free, low-carb, sugar-free, and gluten free. They are nutrient dense, but BIG on flavor, not to mention they look amazing too. My girls got a hold of this cookbook when it first arrived and you should have heard the “oooohhhs” and “aahhhhhs” that proceeded, along with the, “Mommy, can we make this?! Wait, no… this one! Well, okay… maybe this one too!” When recipes from a “healthy” cookbook like this one can excite children, you know you’ve hit the jackpot.

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Lemony Angel Food Cake with Lemon Cream & Hibiscus Cherries pg. 10 of Bare Root Sweets

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Coconut Caramel Cookies pg. 48 of Bare Root Sweets

I was really blown away by this little recipe book; it is very well done. There are a few comfort food favorites, like Coconut Caramel Cookies (think mock Girl Scout Samoas), Creamy Lemon Bars, Banana Cream Pies, and a gorgeous Blueberry Gallette. But then there are other unique recipes that you almost won’t believe are grain free, like  Chai-Spiced Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Frosting, Maple Bacon Caramel Apples, Lavender Dark Drinking Chocolate, and Apple & Sage Hand Pies.

Bottom line:
I highly recommend this cookbook. There are recipes in it that you won’t find in any other Paleo cookbook. It is a must have for the health conscious cook or for those of us with special dietary needs. Not to mention, one could really WOW their holiday guests with a dessert recipe (or recipes) made from this book! The paperback edition sells for under $12 (you can’t beat that!) or you can purchase the Kindle edition for around $2.99. The paperback version would be an excellent Christmas present!

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S’Mores Pie pg. 23 of Bare Root Sweets

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Apple & Sage Hand Pies pg. 24 of Bare Root Sweets

Now for that giveaway I mentioned. Angela has generously supplied 2 copies of Bare Root Sweets to giveaway to 2 lucky winners! Winners will randomly be selected after the giveaway closes on December 18, 2013. Good luck!

This post may contain affiliate links which I may receive a small commission from (without any additional costs to you). The money earned from these commissions helps me maintain this website. Thank you for your support in this way! 

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Whole Food Fridays 12-06-2013

Welcome to Whole Food Fridays! Come link up your own GLUTEN FREE & WHOLE FOOD recipes and find new ones to try!

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There were some wonderful submissions last week in the Thanksgiving Edition of WFF. Thank you for contributing! 

Highlighted Recipes:

Gluten Free & Vegan Dinner Rolls from Megan Lierman

Four Layer Paleo Pumpkin Bars from Naturally Lindsey

Paleo Pepperoni Pizza Casserole from Tessa the Domestic Diva

Want to participate? Here are the guidelines:

  • Please link to your individual post, NOT your home page or a static blog party page.
  • You must provide a link back to Whole Food Fridays somewhere in the body of your post. Recipes not linked back to Whole Food Fridays will not be eligible to be highlighted the following week.
  • All recipes MUST BE GLUTEN FREE and made from REAL WHOLE FOOD ingredients.
  • Your blog does not have to be a gluten free blog in order to link up a recipe, but please make sure your recipe is gluten free.
  • Recipes for natural homemade soaps, lotions, etc. are also welcome.
  • Please leave me a comment! I love it when I hear from you. Often times comments make my day!

What your recipe CAN contain:

  • Any real whole food ingredients (gluten free whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, vegetables, herbs, healthy oils, etc).
  • Natural Sweeteners (honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, yacon, coconut nectar, coconut sugar/palm sugar, sucant, stevia)
  • Meats, eggs and dairy are all okay (although dairy free options are always an added bonus).
  • Bacon. Yes, anyone who makes anything with bacon gets extra brownie points (just make sure your bacon is gluten & nitrate free)!

What your recipe CANNOT contain:

  • Anything artificial, including anything refined or highly processed.
  • Any sort of boxed mix or prepackaged anything (with the exception of packaged GF noodles, chocolate chips, nut butters, etc…). Just remember fresh real whole foods are best!
  • Refined sugars (like plain white sugar or brown sugar – organic is okay).
  • Liver and/or chicken feet. Okay, I’m joking. You can link up a recipe that contains either, I just probably won’t highlight it the following week.

If your post does not comply to the above guidelines it will be deleted (and I will probably delete it without leaving you a note telling you I did (sorry), because that could be very time consuming). If you have any questions just leave me a comment below and I will try my best to get back to you.

Please be descriptive and tell us a bit about what you’re sharing. Is it vegan? What about dairy free? Is it grain free? Etc… I think you understand; you’re a smart bunch!

Thanks again for stopping by Whole Food Fridays! I look forward to seeing you every week!
xoxo
Megan



Gluten & Dairy Free Maple Pumpkin Pie

The first Thanksgiving that I was gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free was interesting. It wasn’t bad by any means, just different. I was going through a time of transition, an adjustment period in my diet, and I had to learn how to make my favorite recipes differently. It was actually my sister in law who made me a gluten and dairy free pumpkin pie that first Thanksgiving (it was awesome… and crust-less). Since then I have tweaked her substitutions to come up with this Gluten & Dairy Free Maple Pumpkin Pie. And let me tell you what, you won’t miss the refined sugars or dairy – at all. The maple syrup is such a wonderful addition to the pumpkin and spices. It really is delicious! 

DSC_0962 (Large)The whipped topping you see in the picture is simply chilled coconut cream (the thick cream that separates from the liquid in certain brands of canned coconut milk, like the Thai Kitchen Brand) whipped with a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia (course, you could use maple syrup, honey, or another sweetener instead). If you prefer to use another brand of coconut milk (that’s maybe guar gum free), simply place the entire can of coconut milk in the blender, sweeten to taste, and blend. Place in an airtight container in the fridge overnight. The coconut milk will thicken, and then you can use it as whipped topping (it just might not be quite as thick as what’s pictured above, but still delicious). 

Wishing you all an early, but very Happy Thanksgiving! 
xoxo,
Megan

*If this recipe doesn’t accommodate your dietary needs, please check out my gal pal, Shirley’s, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe Roundup with Over 30 Recipes! There is certainly a recipe to accommodate nearly all types of dietary needs: egg free, Paleo, nut free, etc…

Gluten & Dairy Free Maple Pumpkin Pie

Yield: one 9-inch pie

Gluten & Dairy Free Maple Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 unbaked Best Gluten-Free Flaky Pie Crust Recipe
  • 15 ounces unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk beverage, etc...)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl until well blended.
  2. Pour filling into the prepared unbaked pie shell and bake in a preheated 400 degree (F) oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees (F) and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes. The pie is completely cooked through when a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.
  3. Allow to cool completely before serving.
http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/11/05/maple-pumpkin-pie-dairy-free/

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This post may contain affiliate links which I may receive a small commission from (without any additional costs to you). The money earned from these commissions helps me maintain this website. Thank you for your support in this way!  

This recipe is linked to Make Your Own Monday, Teach Me Tuesday, Fat TuesdaySlightly Indulgent TuesdayAllergy Free WednesdayFrugal Day Sustainable WaysThank Your Body ThursdayTasty TraditionsFull Plate ThursdaySimple Lives ThursdayPennywise Platter, and Gluten Free Friday.

Paleo Animal Crackers

I loved animal crackers as a child. My mom would frequently buy them for me as a treat. I would play with them, bite a head off, play with them some more, dismember a bear… It sounds much more gruesome than it is, BUT admit it – you did it too!

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I wanted my children to experience the same joy of eating animal crackers as I did, which is why I developed this gluten free recipe. These Paleo Animal Crackers are so much healthier than the ones I used to eat as a kid. The almond and coconut flours are packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Really, for a snacking cookie (err… cracker), you can’t get much healthier than this. 

I love watching my girls eat these animal crackers. Snack time regularly becomes an all out giggle-fest! Course, you don’t have to be a kid to appreciate them. Animal crackers were meant to satisfy the kid in all of us, regardless of age. 

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This dough is really easy to work with. It rolls out like a dream and holds its shape really well, even when cut into smaller shapes. I like to use this small frosting spatula to assist in maneuvering the cutouts onto the baking sheet. 

Regarding Substitutions:
This recipe is strictly written as a grain free recipe using almond and coconut flours. Substituting sunflower seed flour for the almond flour may possibly work for a nut-free dough; however, I have not tried it. I do not recommend substituting any other flours.

Flax eggs or “gel” may work as a substitution for the eggs, but again, I have not tried it. If you do try it, please come back and share your results!

Lots of love from my kitchen to yours! 
xoxo, 
Megan (with a long E)

 

Paleo Animal Crackers

Paleo Animal Crackers

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and nutmeg.
  3. Cut in coconut oil until mixture resembles fine coarse crumbs. Add in the eggs, runny honey, and vanilla extract; mix well and then let the dough rest for about a minute (this gives the coconut flour time to soak up moisture). Mix again for 30 seconds.
  4. Divide the dough into two balls. Wrap one of the balls securely with plastic wrap (so it doesn't dry out) and place the other ball of dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. Flatten the dough into a round disk with your hands, and then cover it with another large piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to evenly roll the dough until it is 1/8 inch thick.
  5. Gently peel back the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough into desired shapes using cookie cutters (I have this set, but I think these or these look awesome too), or a pizza cutter. If you are cutting the dough into large cracker shapes, score each cracker with a fork 2-3 times.
  6. Carefully transfer the crackers onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.
  7. Repeat with the second half of cracker dough.
  8. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the crackers are golden brown on the bottom. Allow the crackers to fully cool.

Recipe Notes from Megan

These crackers do not get really crunchy; however, the longer they bake the crunchier they become (just be very careful not to burn them). I store my crackers open to the air (it helps them keep what crispiness they have) instead of in an airtight container.

The dough can be refrigerated (just make sure the balls of dough are securely wrapped in plastic wrap), but must be at room temperature prior to rolling.

To avoid the dough sticking to the cookie cutters, simply dip the tips of the cookie cutters into tapioca starch before cutting your shapes. Repeat as needed.

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/10/27/paleo-animal-crackers/

 This recipe is linked to Teach Me Tuesday, Fat TuesdaySlightly Indulgent TuesdayAllergy Free WednesdayFrugal Day Sustainable Ways, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday and Pennywise Platter

 

Low Glycemic Sweeteners with Ricki Heller and my review of Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free

I’ve been blessed to meet some incredible food writers over the last few years, one of which is the amazing Ricki Heller (RickiHeller.com). Ricki is a master gluten free and vegan cook, who also specializes in sugar-free (low-glycemic) and allergen friendly treats. Her new cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free arrived on my doorstep just days ago and I’ve been devouring it. Vegan or not, this cookbook is an absolute must-have for anyone eating gluten free and needing wholesome treats that won’t compromise flavor or the waist line. It’s just an added bonus that this cookbook is truly vegan – which makes it also dairy and egg free! 

In addition to being gifted in the kitchen, Ricki is a genuinely wonderful person. When I first found out I had to completely remove sugar from my diet months ago, Ricki was one of the very first people I reached out to for help. She offered her support and advice, but more importantly, she made time for me (thank you, Ricki!). Ricki is beautiful inside and out, and I think Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free captures Ricki’s character perfectly – it is visually stunning book (from front to back cover) and contains reliable recipes the entire family will love. 

Today I’m honored that Ricki will share with you her favorite low-glycemic sweeteners and a recipe for vegan Sunshine Breakfast Loaf, which is directly from Natually Sweet & Gluten-Free (I know, it looks amazing, doesn’t it?!). 
~Megan

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Living a Sweet Life—with Low Glycemic Sweeteners (by Ricki Heller)

Pretty much ever since I began eating solid foods, I’ve been a sugar addict. (Okay, so maybe I was a sugar addict even before I ate solid foods. I just couldn’t talk about it back then).  Like many other people in the Western world, I was raised on lots of packaged foods with added sugars; I was given confections as treats when I was a child; and I consumed dessert every day (or more than once a day).  With eating habits like that, is it any wonder we’re a nation of overweight, under-exercised, chronically ill sweets lovers?

Well, when I first began my journey toward better health, the number one thing to go was refined sugar. I started baking with less refined, natural sweeteners like maple syrup and Sucanat, but even that wasn’t enough to curb the longing for the white stuff. After being diagnosed with candida (an overgrowth of yeast in the body) for the second time in 10 years, I finally decided to get my health under control and figured out what would work for me. I couldn’t give up the joy of dessert in my life, and also didn’t want to compromise on flavor or texture.

In the end, I determined how to create delectable desserts using low glycemic, natural sweeteners, used in combination with whole foods for nutritious, low-fat and high-fiber desserts that actually taste great. Baking with low glycemic sweeteners isn’t as daunting as one might think. In fact, that’s what my cookbook, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, is all about: showing people who have shunned sugar, or those with multiple food allergies or sensitivities, that they can still enjoy all their favorite sweet treats, and no one need be the wiser. Because really, what’s life without some sweetness?

Here are some of my favorite low glycemic sweeteners and how I use them to achieve stellar results.

Stevia. A natural herbal sweetener derived from the stevia rebaudiana plant, stevia is my number one go-to sweetener. It rates a “0” on the glycemic index, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar levels when you eat it. It’s also the most popular sweetener in Japan, and has been for decades. It doesn’t come without challenges, though, especially if you are new to using stevia.

To begin with, because it’s up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, a very little bit of stevia replaces a lot of sugar. That means you could use perhaps 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) stevia instead of up to a cup of sugar. Clearly, those two measurements are not equal! So when you use stevia, you need to add other ingredients to replace the bulk—and binding power—of the sugar.

In addition, some people find that stevia has a slight aftertaste for them. I avoid this problem by adhering to what has become my mantra about stevia: “less is more.” I always aim for the least amount required to achieve the bare minimum sweetness that still tastes good. That way, I never overdo it. When a lot of sweetening power is needed, I tend to combine stevia with another sweetener (usually coconut sugar), to achieve the benefits of both.  

I love stevia in puddings, breakfast bakes, smoothies, and pretty much any baked good.

Coconut Sugar. This low glycemic sweetener (35 on the glycemic index) has become all the rage over the past couple of years, and I understand why: it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar, it actually contains some minimal nutritional value, and it has a lovely, mild flavor somewhere between caramel and butterscotch.

In addition, coconut sugar can be measured like white sugar, since it’s also dry and crystalline. While most sources say that coconut sugar can be measured one-for-one instead of regular sugar, I’ve found that it doesn’t taste quite as sweet as sugar, so I always mix mine with a little stevia to boost the sweetness. That way, I also use less coconut sugar, and the final product is still very low GI.

Finally, I have found that coconut sugar doesn’t dissolve quite as readily as white sugar, either, so I just add it with my wet ingredients instead of the dry, and it melts right into the batter or dough perfectly.

Coconut sugar is perfect in brownies, cookies, or cakes—well, just about anything!

Coconut Nectar.  Coconut nectar is derived from the coconut palm tree just like coconut sugar, but it’s not dehydrated the way the sugar is. As a result, it provides a thick, sticky syrup that also tastes a bit like caramel and is low on the glycemic index. Coconut sugar is a great replacement for honey or brown rice syrup. When I’m looking for something caramelly or slightly gooey, I turn to coconut nectar.

Agave. Agave is also a sweetener I enjoy on a much more limited basis. It’s low on the glycemic index and has a lovely, light flavor, but there has been controversy about the amount of fructose in agave, and the fact that this can be hard on the liver. My take on agave is to use it sparingly, but not worry about it when you do. If an entire recipe contains 1/4 cup (60 ml) of agave, say, that means that one individual serving provides only about 3/4 teaspoon (7.5 ml), not something about which I’d be overly concerned.

Because of its mild flavor and very light color, I love to use agave in vanilla cakes or bars, as well as lightly flavored confections like lemon or banana (though I rarely use banana these days anyway!).

 Yacon Syrup. This low glycemic sweetener is derived from a tuber (root) that is native to South America. Many sources list its glycemic index score as “0,” meaning it has no effect on blood sugar levels. I find that yacon tastes sort of like a cross between molasses and apple cider vinegar—that is, not quite as sweet as molasses, with a bit of a sour, fermented (though not unpleasant) tang.  It doesn’t taste all that sweet, however, so I always combine it with something else rather than using it as a primary sweetener. 

I also find yacon’s flavor can be a bit strong for some people, so I’d advise using yacon in strongly flavored desserts, like brownies, anything chocolate, or spice cakes, cookies or other treats.

Lo Han Guo (Monkfruit). I’ve only just found this sweetener and must admit that I haven’t used it yet, but supposedly measures like sugar and is also very low on the glycemic index. Apparently it’s been used in China for decades, and with no flavor and a sweetness factor more than 300 times that of white sugar—well, definitely worth a try!

Ricki HellerBio: Using only whole foods ingredients, a generous pinch of humor and input from her two chatty canines, Ricki shares gluten-free, allergy-friendly and sugar-free recipes on her blog, RickiHeller.com

Ricki’s second cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free, will be released in September, 2013. Her first book, Sweet Freedom, is one of only three cookbooks recommended by Ellen DeGeneres on her website. Ricki is also an Associate Editor for Simply Gluten-Free Magazine and has written for Clean Eating magazine, Allergic Living, Living Without, VegNews, and many other publications.

 Ricki lives near Toronto, Canada with her husband and two dogs.

 

From Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free - photo credit to Celine Saki

From Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free by Ricki Heller – photo credit to Celine Saki

 

Sunshine Breakfast Loaf by Ricki Heller

Yield: Makes 1 loaf (about 8 to 10 slices)

The prunes in this delightful loaf add sweetness, and the hints of orange and cinnamon are a lovely combination. For best results, be sure to choose prunes that are still soft and moist, rather than ones that have dried out.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 oz (90 g) prunes (dried plums) (about 7 to 8 large prunes or 12 - 15 small prunes)
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) canned or homemade unsweetened pumpkin puree (see page 23)
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) coconut sugar
  • 1/8 tsp (.5 ml) pure stevia powder or 25 to 30 drops pure plain or vanilla stevia liquid, or to taste
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) finely grated orange zest, preferably organic (about 1 medium orange)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pure unsweetened orange juice (from 3–4 medium oranges)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) ground chia seeds (from about 1 tsp or 5 ml whole seeds)
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp (25 g) whole psyllium husks
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) unsalted pumpkin seeds, raw or lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) walnut pieces, raw or lightly toasted
  • 1 1/4 cups (165 g) Ricki’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix
  • 1/2 cup (80 g) teff flour
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line a 4.5 x 8.5-inch (11 x 22-cm) loaf pan with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, process the prunes until they are almost smooth. Add the pumpkin, coconut sugar, stevia, orange juice, oil, chia, vanilla, vinegar, and orange zest and blend again until smooth. Add the psyllium last and pulse just to blend. By hand, gently stir in the pumpkin seeds and walnut pieces; do not process again.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, teff flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; whisk to combine. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir just until blended (do not overmix). The batter will be thick (more of a spoonable consistency than a pourable one).
  4. Turn the batter into t he pan and smooth the top. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through baking, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan before removing to a cooling rack. See page 37, storing baked goods. May be frozen.

Recipe Notes from Megan

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/10/03/low-glycemic-sweeteners-rickiheller-naturally-sweet-gluten-free/

Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer (Vegan/No Sugar Added)

I normally don’t take creamer in my coffee. Well, at least not anymore. I used to. Up until I changed my diet and couldn’t find the right sort of dairy free creamer substitute. I tried everything from dairy free coffee creamers to canned coconut milk to any and every dairy free milk under the sun. Nothing satisfied me, so I decided to start drinking my coffee black. It took some adjusting, but eventually just black coffee became my norm. There’s something about fall and chilly weather though. It makes me crave an occasional Dairy Free Caramel Macchiato or a big Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks  (I think all of our dairy-consuming friends on Facebook seem to be drinking pumpkin spice lattes right now). I know, I know… wishful thinking. Starbucks can’t quite accommodate our dietary needs. It’s okay though, because my new recipe for Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer (Vegan/No Sugar Added) is much healthier, more delicious, and easier on the wallet.

When I set out to make this coffee creamer I wanted to use as little sugar or sweetener as possible. My body doesn’t handle sugar well, including palm sugar, maple syrup or honey (although my children and husband tolerate both, so I still bake/cook with them from time to time). Dates are a wonderful natural sweetener, but they aren’t something I’d normally consider using in a coffee creamer. In this recipe they work really well though, especially because I heat them up, which makes them very soft and they are easily broken down in the blender. I asked a few friends of mine to sample this coffee creamer and neither one of them missed the sugar, nor could they detect the stevia. The spices, pumpkin, and dates hide the stevia really well. Course, if you’re not  interested in using stevia, feel free to substitute pure maple syrup. It will turn out just as yummy.

Back to my friends though – they both confessed to eating this Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer straight from the jar. It’s that good. It tastes like dessert and is a very versatile recipe. One that you could easily turn into pudding, smoothies, ice cream, etc. I’m looking forward to hearing of all the wonderful things you do with it! Speaking of dessert and this being a versatile recipe… I have a killer dessert recipe coming up for you soon that uses this creamer as the star ingredient. It’s so decadent and you are going to LOVE it! And you’re especially going to love how healthy it is. ;)

This coffee creamer has become my new addiction. I still drink my morning cup of coffee black, but by the afternoon I enjoy another pick me up with a bit of this Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer. The pumpkin and spices are the perfect blend of fall (and it smells amazing, too!). I’m convinced it will quickly become your new favorite addiction. Enjoy it – cheers!

All my love,
Megan (with a long E)

Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer (Vegan/No Sugar Added)

Yield: about 3 1/2 cups

Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer (Vegan/No Sugar Added)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 14 ounces canned coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 20 drops NuNatural’s Liquid Stevia or 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (or more, depending on how sweet you like your coffee creamer)

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the almond milk and chopped dates. Bring to a boil over medium and remove heat. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Very carefully (it’s very hot!) pour the saucepan contents into a high speed blender and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is very smooth.
  3. Add the coconut milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and stevia and blend for another minute until smooth and well mixed. Refrigerate and use within 5-7 days.

Recipe Notes from Megan

You can use this coffee creamer immediately after making it, but if you can stand it, give it a full overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavors merry. Trust me, it will taste even better!

I use about a 1/4 cup of this creamer per cup of coffee, but you can certainly use as little or as much of it as you'd like.

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/09/20/dairy-free-pumpkin-spice-coffee-creamer-veganno-sugar-added/

 This post is linked to Allergy Free Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Wellness Weekend and Fight Back Friday.

Cherry Vanilla Italian Soda (No sugar added)

Alaska has had a record-setting hot summer; it’s been ahhh-mazing. This Alaskan girl’s arms aren’t halibut-belly-white anymore, they are actually kind of tan. In fact, they are the tannest they have ever been!

My ice cream maker is broken (I just ordered a replacement piece), so we’ve been enjoying popsicles, sugar free lemonade, and Cherry Vanilla Italian Sodas to beat the heat. As a rule, we don’t allow soda in our house, but I make an exception for club soda, because it’s plain carbonated water. It’s a perfect ingredient for building our own fun and healthy drinks.

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In my early 20′s I worked full time in the sales and marketing department of Alaska Airlines, and part time at a coffee shop on the weekends. Back then I didn’t think twice about making someone an Italian soda or a coffee with the various flavored syrups. Little did I know, how unhealthy there were with all the added sugar and artificial “natural flavors.” Thankfully, I know better now. And am happy to recreate some of my coffee house favorites with real, whole food ingredients.

 

Cherry Vanilla Italian Soda (No sugar added)

Yield: 1 adult serving

Cherry Vanilla Italian Soda (No sugar added)

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces club soda
  • 10-15 drops NuNatural’s Liquid Vanilla Stevia (or honey or maple syrup to taste plus 2 drops vanilla extract)
  • 10 dark sweet cherries, pitted and halved (I use frozen)
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. In a tall glass that holds at least 22 ounces (I use these glasses), pour in half of the club soda and stir in the vanilla stevia and dark sweet cherries. Fill the glass up with ice, and pour in the remaining club soda. Stir and enjoy.

Recipe Notes from Megan

For an Italian Cream Soda, simply stir in 2 tablespoons of canned coconut milk.

This recipe will also work with raspberries or strawberries (use 3-4 whole, quartered).

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/08/02/cherry-vanilla-italian-soda-no-sugar-added/

Enjoy!

All my love,
Megan

This recipe is linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekend.

Sugar Free Triple Berry Cobbler (Grain & Nut Free)

I have the perfect summertime recipe for you today, that’s sugar free and absolutely delicious!  This Sugar Free Triple Berry Cobbler (Grain & Nut Free) is the perfect dessert to bring along on a picnic, camping trip, or to make for your 4th of July celebration! 

…… or to have for breakfast (not that I would know anything about that)! ;)

If you are worried about using stevia in this recipe, don’t be. It blends in wonderfully with the berries. I can’t even detect it, and neither can my husband. Course the brand of liquid stevia you use is key. I only recommend the NuNatural’s brand of stevia. When used properly, it doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste that other stevias do.  

This is truly dessert eating at its finest, especially because it’s sugar and guilt free! 

Enjoy!
xoxo,
Megan

DSC_0647 (Small)

Sugar Free Triple Berry Cobbler (Grain & Nut Free)

Yield: about 8 servings

Sugar Free Triple Berry Cobbler (Grain & Nut Free)

Ingredients

    Filling:
  • 8 cups frozen triple berry blend
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon NuNatural’s Vanilla Stevia
  • Topping:
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, just melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 15 drops NuNatural’s Vanilla Stevia
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 2-3 teaspoons)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F), and lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Place the berries in a large mixing bowl and thaw at room temperature until they are just starting to turn soft and juicy. Do not completely thaw.
  3. Add in the arrowroot starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla stevia and toss until the berries are well coated in the mixture.
  4. Place the berries in the baking dish and use a spatula or the back of a spoon to evenly distribute them in the pan.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, and coconut flour. Stir in the sea salt, vanilla extract, vanilla stevia, and lemon zest. Crumble the dough topping evenly over the berries.
  6. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 - 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite ice cream.
http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/06/11/sugar-free-triple-berry-cobbler-grain-nut-free/

This post may contain affiliate links which I may receive a small commission from (without any additional costs to you). The money earned from these commissions helps me maintain this website. Thank you for your support in this way!  

This recipe is linked to Make Your Own Monday, Teach Me Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Frugal Day Sustainable Ways, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday and Pennywise Platter, Gluten Free Fridays andWellness Weekend. 

Grain Free High Protein & Fiber Bread (xanthan/guar gum free)

Once upon a time (roughly 7 years ago and prior to becoming gluten free) I was a very angry and unhappy young woman. My husband and I were living in a condo in the city and I was working full time from home while taking care of our first baby girl. It was hard. My husband was always gone because he was working full time during the day and taking college courses at night. I never got a break  – a chance to catch my breath. I was trying to figure out the whole “first time mom thing” while working, and since I was home, there was no separation between the two. As I look back now, those years were a blur and sadly, a very unhappy time for both my husband and I (and I’m sure our daughter too).

When one gets so unhappy, it’s sometimes hard to step outside the box and really see what true reality is. That’s what happened to me. I was so stuck in my unhappiness and loneliness that I lost sight of reality. In my warped thinking, I blamed my husband for being away from me and our daughter; it was his fault I was so unhappy (when he really was working hard to create a future for us). Things between us got very ugly.

By the grace of God, one morning I woke up and something clicked. There was a light bulb or a warning light that went off in my head – and I found myself thinking, “I don’t think the problem is really my husband… I think it might be me.” So without my husband’s knowledge, I made an appointment to see a therapist. I remember being incredibly nervous at that appointment, but the therapist was kind and after talking to her for a while, she asked me to fill out a questionnaire. When I was finished she looked it over and told me I suffered from a moderate form of depression. I was dumbfounded. Me? Depressed?! Really?! But I’m a happy person!

As the therapist and I continued to talk, she came to the conclusion that I suffered from post-partum depression. And suddenly it all started to make sense in my mind. I really was depressed, and among other things, my emotions were way out of control. The therapist gave me two treatment options, therapy – or therapy plus meds. I agreed to therapy and that summer/fall I fought and prayed my way out of my pit of depression. It took time, effort, lots of tears, and oddly enough, Weight Watchers.

girls again (Small)

Me (on the right) at my heaviest with best gal pals Carissa (left) and Lisa (middle).

During my time of depression, I managed to gain quite a bit of weight. I had been steadily increasing dress sizes and finally decided enough was enough when my size 16 jeans were getting way too tight. Weight Watchers for me was a real eye opener. Before joining I never paid much attention to nutritional labels, so learning how to read them and make “healthier” choices was a step in the right direction for me. I diligently counted calories and kept a food journal… and the weight started coming off. My body responded really well to a diet high in fiber (among other things), and I lost 35 pounds total from start to finish.

a girl and her hair (Small)

Me after losing 35 lbs – I also decided to chop my hair & color it. I’ve since let it grow out, but at the time it was a bold change I needed (and it was fun & adventurous while it lasted).

The diet-high-in-fiber mentality actually inspired this Grain Free High Protein & Fiber Bread recipe. I’ve found my body doesn’t care for baked goods made from 100% nut flour. It’s just too much “nut” for my system to handle. And since grains are currently a no-go for me, combining a bit of blanched almond flour with flax, whole psyllium husk, and sunflower seed flour seems to be just the perfect combination for my body. My girls and my husband enjoy this bread too. 

Speaking of my husband, this December we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. After all these years, that man still wants to keep me. ;)

Knowing what I do now about gluten, I’m certain my gluten sensitivity played a massive role in my post-partum depression. When I am exposed to gluten I become a very unhappy person and experience a roller coaster of emotions I often cannot control. Part of me wishes “if only I knew then what I know now,” but on the other hand, I really grew as a person those years, and my husband and I grew together as a couple.

As for Weight Watchers, in sharing with you part of my journey, I don’t support their organization, nor do I oppose it. At that point in time, they were exactly what I needed to get back to a healthier weight, although I recognize they push more low fat/high fiber foods vs. healthy whole food ingredients in general. 

If you suffer from sadness and depression, whether it’s due to chronic pain and illness or life changes, I just want to let you know you aren’t alone. There are many of us who have gone through it in one form or another – and there is no shame in seeking help. My therapist provided me with the outlet I needed to release all of the anger, confusion, sadness, and slew of other emotions I hadn’t been able to deal with on my own. She was my sounding board, my safe place and my judgement-free zone for an hour a week for nearly 9 months. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. She played an integral role in my mental health healing and I’m very, very thankful I made the decision to see her.

Grain Free High Protein & Fiber (Small)

Grain Free High Protein & Fiber Bread (xanthan/guar gum free)

Yield: one 9"x5" loaf

Ingredients

  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, ground into flour
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup whole psyllium husk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Yeast Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water (between 110 – 115 degrees F)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the honey and the hot water. Sprinkle in the yeast and give it a quick stir to combine. Proof for 7 minutes (set a timer!) – NO more, NO less time. Make sure you have the other wet and dry ingredients mixed and ready to go when the 7 minutes are up!
  2. Using a heavy duty mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and vinegar.
  4. When the yeast is done proofing, add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until it’s a little paste-like, and then slowly add the yeast mixture. The dough will appear very watery, but don't panic. As the whole psyllium husk expands and absorbs the water the dough will become thicker. Using your mixer’s low speed setting, mix for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl then mix on medium for 3 minutes. (You may need to stop your mixer and scrape the sides of your bowl a few more times.)
  5. Pour dough into a parchment lined and well greased 9 x 5 metal bread pan (the only pan I recommend for this recipe is a metal one, you will not have the same results using other pans). The dough will be very sticky, so wet a spatula and use it to evenly smooth the dough into the bread pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour (Check the loaf 30 minutes into rising. When the dough is close to hitting the plastic wrap, remove it; allow the dough to rise the remaining time uncovered). When bread is finished rising, bake in a preheated 375 degrees (F) oven for about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove loaf from pan and cool on a wire rack. Cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe Notes from Megan

Make sure you read my The Everything Guide to Making Gluten Free Bread - Including Troubleshooting Tips prior to making this recipe to ensure the best results!

This loaf will fall slightly while it cools (about 1/4-1/2 an inch), so don't be alarmed. The grain free ingredients used in this recipe are heavy, which 1). causes the loaf to fall and 2). does not allow the loaf to rise to a lofty height like a regular loaf of bread would. I've made this recipe many times testing different measurements of yeast, longer rise times, less moisture, etc. and found this recipe works/rises the best.

Store in an airtight plastic bag. Use within 3 days, or slice, wrap with plastic wrap, place in a plastic bag and freeze for later use.

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/06/03/grain-gluten-free-high-protein-fiber-bread-xanthanguar-gum-free/

Possible Substitutions:
I am anticipating many of you will ask about substitutions, so I am providing my thoughts in advance. Please know I haven’t tried any of these substitutions myself, so I’m not sure if they will work. If you find something works or doesn’t work, would you please come back and share your results in a comment? I would appreciate it.

For an almond flour free loaf -
Try replacing the almond flour with hazelnut flour, pecan flour, or more sunflower seed flour.

For an egg free loaf-
Try replacing the eggs with 1/2 a cup of warm water or 1/2 a cup of warm water combined with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. I think an egg free version of this loaf would be best made as a focaccia bread instead of a sandwich bread. Try using a 10 inch cast iron pan or 9 inch metal cake pan. Line it with parchment, grease generously with oil, and then form the dough into a round. Let it rise for about an hour, carefully baste the loaf with olive oil, and then bake it for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees (F).

For a flax free loaf-
Try substituting more blanched almond flour or more sunflower seed flour.

ALL MY LOVE,
xoxo
Megan

This recipe is linked to Fat Tuesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, and Fight Back Friday.

This post contains affiliate links. Allergy Free Alaska, LLC receives a small commission from the sales made through these links. However, we only promote affiliate products we use or support wholeheartedly. The commissions received through your purchases help maintain this site. Thank you for your support!