Vegan & Paleo “Butter” Pecan Ice Cream

I have such a treat for you today! Fresh chopped pecans toasted golden in “butter,” combined with rich and sweet dairy-free vanilla ice cream. Yep, that can only mean one thing: I made Vegan & Paleo “Butter” Pecan Ice Cream. I promise you, this recipe is going to make you want to forget your dinner plans and eat dessert first. And then hoard the rest of the container selfishly for yourself. Sometimes not knowing what’s lurking in the freezer isn’t such a bad thing – because it makes hiding containers of ice cream easier. :)

But Shhhhh….. let’s keep that secret to ourselves! 

Butter Pecan Ice Cream Vegan and Paleo- Allergy Free Alaska

Along with my Vegan & Paleo Fudge Tracks Ice Cream, this one of my favorite ice cream flavors. Coming next in line would have to be mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? 

Course, as with most dairy-free, egg-free ice cream recipes, this Vegan & Paleo “Butter” Pecan Ice Cream will be creamiest when it’s at a soft serve consistency. It’s how I prefer to eat it. If your ice cream has been sitting in the freezer for a while and is hard, simply let it warm up for a while on the counter, maybe 15-30 minutes; or if you’re super impatient like me, you can zap it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. 

Sheri, this recipe is for you. :) 

All my love.
xoxo,
Megan

Vegan and Paleo Butter Pecan Ice Cream from Allergy Free Alaska

Vegan & Paleo “Butter” Pecan Ice Cream

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped dates, palm sugar, and unsweetened almond milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the sea salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegan butter (or ghee).
  2. Place the saucepan contents in a high speed blender (be very careful it’s hot) and puree on high until smooth.
  3. Add the full fat coconut milk and vanilla extract to the date mixture in the blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour into a mason jar with a lid and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or until very cold.
  5. In a 10-12 inch skillet, toast the chopped pecans with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegan butter (or ghee) over medium heat until they are golden brown. Spread out on a dinner plate to cool.
  6. Give the chilled custard a quick stir (it may separate in the refrigerator as it chills, this is completely normal) and then pour into an ice cream maker (I recommend this one) and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.
  7. Add the toasted pecans during the last 5 minutes of churning.
  8. Place the ice cream in a freezer safe 1 1/2-2 quart glass storage container (I use the biggest container in this set).
  9. Serve immediately for soft serve, or place in the freezer and freeze for at least 4-6 hours for a firmer texture.

Recipe Notes from Megan

The brand of canned coconut milk you use can make a HUGE difference in the quality and taste of your ice cream. My absolute favorite brand of coconut milk is the Aroy-D brand, which is guar gum and preservative free. I don’t recommend using the Natural Value brand, as often times it’s gritty and will not produce ice cream with a smooth texture.

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2014/06/25/vegan-paleo-butter-pecan-ice-cream/

This recipe is linked to, Marvelous Mondays, Fat Tuesday, Allergy Free WednesdayGluten Free Wednesdays, Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Frugal Day Sustainable Ways, Thank Your Body Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday and Gluten Free Fridays. 

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!  

Vegan & Paleo Fudge Tracks Ice Cream

Creamy vanilla ice cream + rich & decadent hot fudge sauce + chopped almonds = pure bliss.  Seriously. You just can’t go wrong with vanilla and chocolate. 

Paleo & Vegan Fudge Tracks Ice Cream - Allergy Free AlaskaI’m very much an emotional eater; I’ve always been one, although I’ve curved it a lot over the last several years (or attempted to). Some days though, despite what is going on in life, I just want to eat a big bowl of ice cream. You know? It just makes everything better. 

I quit buying store-bought dairy free ice cream a while ago. Not because it didn’t taste good (well, for the most part anyways), but because of what was in it (soy, xanthan/guar gums, sugar, agave, “natural flavors”)… and the cost.  A family of four can completely decimate 1-2 of those little pint-sized containers in one night with no problems. I figure if I can make something healthier here at home, that’s nearly entirely sweetened using dates and stevia, that the whole family LOVES, then why not? And in my opinion, the more ice cream in my freezer, the better. :)

Vegan & Paleo Fudge Tracks Ice Cream- Allergy Free Alaska

Paleo Vegan Fudge Tracks Ice Cream - Allergy Free AlaskaCourse, as with most dairy free, egg free ice cream recipes, this Vegan & Paleo Fudge Tracks Ice Cream will be creamiest when it’s at a soft serve consistency. It’s how I prefer to eat it. If your ice cream has been sitting in the freezer for a while and is hard, simply let it warm up for a while on the counter, maybe 15-30 minutes; or if you’re super impatient like me, you can zap it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. 

And adding nuts is entirely optional.  :) 

All my love.
xoxo,
Megan
Vegan Paleo Fudge Tracks Ice Cream - Allergy Free Alaska

Vegan & Paleo Fudge Tracks Ice Cream

Yield: about 1 1/2 quarts

Vegan & Paleo Fudge Tracks Ice Cream

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped dates in a small mixing bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups of hot water. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the dates and discard the water.
  3. Place the dates in a high speed blender with 1 can of full fat coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups). Puree on high until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining can of full fat coconut milk, unsweetened almond milk, vanilla extract, NuNatural’s Liquid Vanilla Stevia, and sea salt. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into a mason jar with a lid and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or until very cold.
  6. Give the chilled custard a quick stir (it may separate in the refrigerator as it chills, this is completely normal) and then pour into an ice cream maker (I recommend this one) and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.
  7. Place half of the ice cream into a freezer safe 1 1/2-2 quart glass storage container (I use the biggest container in this set) and then gently spread 1/4-1/3 cups of the fudge sauce over the top of the ice cream. Repeat the layers with the remaining ice cream and fudge sauce.
  8. Serve immediately for soft serve, or freeze for at least 4-6 hours for a firmer texture.
  9. Top with chopped almonds if desired.

Recipe Notes from Megan

The brand of canned coconut milk you use can make a HUGE difference in the quality and taste of your ice cream. My absolute favorite brand of coconut milk is the Aroy-D brand, which is guar gum and preservative free. I don’t recommend using the Natural Value brand, as often times it’s gritty and will not produce ice cream with a smooth texture.

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2014/06/05/vegan-paleo-fudge-tracks-ice-cream/

This recipe is linked to, Marvelous Mondays, Fat TuesdayAllergy Free WednesdayGluten Free Wednesdays, Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Frugal Day Sustainable Ways, Thank Your Body Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday and Gluten Free Fridays

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!  

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! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 (No Sugar Added) 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.
No Sugar Added Cherry Vanilla Italian Soda - Allergy Free Alaska

 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.

All my love,
Megan

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/

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

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