Friday, March 26, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cakes- Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

When you are walking the gluten-free path, dessert can be a real pain in the rear. Most of the time I don’t eat it or I’ll have part of a chocolate bar. Or possibly the whole bar. Our local Seattle chocolate companies would suffer financial loss if I could eat gluten-containing desserts!

Through all these years, pre- and post- GF diet, one dessert has stayed constant, and that’s Molten Chocolate Cakes. These are the perfect dessert because they can be prepared ahead of time and baked on the spot. When these puppies come out of the oven, everyone in the room thinks you are a gourmet chef!

I like to make individual cakes in ramekins and serve them with ice cream or whipped cream. If you are rockin’ the DF lifestyle, my favorite ice cream is Coconut Bliss! Coconut Bliss* has the absolutely most ice-creamy mouth feel of any non-dairy ice cream, and no annoying soy aftertaste.

Make these cakes and serve ‘em at your next dinner gathering. I KNOW you will love them as much as I do!

Molten Chocolate Cakes

If you prefer butter to coconut oil, substitute 6 T unsalted butter. If you are preparing the cakes ahead of time, don’t preheat oven and store them in the fridge covered with plastic wrap until baking. Add several minutes to baking time.

Makes 6-8 servings, depending on ramekin size

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips work fine)
6 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
4 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Prepare the ramekins or muffin tins. Wipe a dab of coconut oil all around the inside of the ramekin    and then add a generous dollop of sugar. Swish the sugar around until all inner surfaces are coated and then dump the excess sugar in to the next oiled ramekin. Repeat, adding sugar as needed until all the ramekins are oiled and sugared.
3. Place coconut oil and chocolate in a microwave proof bowl and melt 30 seconds at a time, stirring during the intervals. Be careful the chocolate doesn’t burn. You can also use a double boiler if you have one.
4. While the chocolate is melting, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and keep beating until egg whites are stiff.
5. Add the cocoa powder to chocolate-coconut oil mixture.
6. Fold 1 cup of egg whites into melted chocolate and then fold that entire mixture back into the remaining egg whites.
7. Spoon mixture into ramekins until they are ¾ of the way full.
8. Bake 7-10 minutes or until tops are risen and cracked.
9. Cool slightly on a wire rack and then invert into individual serving bowls.
10. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and coffee/tea.


*I am in no way associated with Coconut Bliss

Friday, March 19, 2010

Weight Prejudice: Myths and Facts

Thank you Yale Rudd Center.  What a wonderful video high-lighting the unfortunate prejudice that can occur towards people who are perceived to be larger.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Pancakes

Gluten-Free Breakfast!

I love breakfast foods.  Scones, waffles, eggs Benedict, I adore them all.  Before I became gluten-free, my hubby and I would go out for breakfast at least twice a month, going to different restaurants and trying their different specialties.  In the last two years, I’ve been out to breakfast maybe five times because, let face it, if I want something other than eggs, I have to make it myself. 

I love buckwheat pancakes because they have a distinct flavor and aroma.  So many GF baked goods made with rice flour have good consistency and texture but the actual flour doesn’t taste like anything.  Rice flour is the tofu of the baking world- it lends substance but takes on the flavor of the other ingredients.

Buckwheat was originally cultivated in central Asia and taken to Europe by the crusaders.  The most common use in the US appears to be in the form of crepes (thank you France!), though roasted buckwheat groats make an excellent substitute for barley in soups.

Despite it’s name, buckwheat is actually a fruit seed and not a cereal grain and has no relation to wheat.  Nutritionally, buckwheat is a powerhouse and contains trace minerals, fiber, and the flavonoids rutin and quercetin, which aid the body’s antioxidant activity and protect the heart.  On a GF diet it can often be challenging to eat enough fiber do to the extensive processing of GF flours, but buckwheat flour contains 4 g of fiber per ¼ cup serving!

What do I eat with my pancakes?
Eggs.  I love eggs and must eat them with pancakes.  My husband thinks this is the weirdest thing but I like to break the yolk on the pancakes and swirl it with the syrup.  I never used to fry eggs because they stuck to the pan but recently I learned the best trick of all.  Use bacon grease!  I get bacon from happy, free-range pigs and when the bacon is finished cooking I strain the grease into a jar and keep it in my fridge for all my cooking needs. 

Your mission?  Buy buckwheat flour and make a delicious weekend breakfast for you and your family.


Gluten-Free Buckwheat Pancakes

These delicious cakes can easily be made dairy-free by using a non-dairy milk of your choice and coconut oil or safflower oil in place of the butter.  Feel free to experiment with the amount of buckwheat flour until you get a taste you like.  Try half cup of brown rice flour and half-cup buckwheat flour for a slightly lighter cake.

1 cup buckwheat flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ cups milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup or sugar

Butter for cooking

1.       1.  Mix together buckwheat flour, tapioca flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

2.       2.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, egg, butter, and syrup or sugar.


S       3.  Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  To avoid lumps, add milk mixture ½ cup at a time and mix before adding more liquid.  Let the batter sit for a few minutes to thicken.

4.       4.   Heat skillet over medium heat and add butter.  When skillet is heated, add dollops of batter 1/3 cup at a time and cook until top begins to bubble.  Flip pancake over and cook for another minute.  Continue the same process until the batter is gone.

Recipe adapted from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Perfect Poached Eggs

Poached Eggs

Poached eggs are one of my favorite foods, and sick or healthy, they always taste good.  I grew up eating them and even now, my mother makes the best poached eggs on this earth.  For much of my adult life, I’ve eaten a poached egg for breakfast, with toast, on quinoa, on mashed potatoes, on kale, alone it all its glory.

Eggs have gotten a bad wrap in the last few decades for no other reason than they contain cholesterol, which happens to be crucial for both cellular and hormonal function.  Eggs are an inexpensive source of complete protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids, and are rich in vitamin K, biotin, thiamine and vitamin B12, selenium and vitamin D.  In fact, eggs can also contain omega-3 fatty acids if the chickens are allowed to graze on grass instead of exclusively grain! 

Poaching eggs appears to be a skill not everyone was raised knowing and I’ve taught a few friends the art.  And it is an art.  When you try this for the first time, imagine yourself as Julia Child and don’t apologize for your broken yolks and lopsided whites. 

One trick of egg poaching is to add vinegar to the water to help congeal the whites faster.  Also, fresh eggs have a thicker white and will cover the yolk more thoroughly than older eggs with a thinner white. 

Below is how I poach eggs.  There is a different technique in almost every cookbook so try out different methods and determine what works best for you in your kitchen.

Autumn’s Poached Eggs

Most recipes require you to poach your egg in a small nonstick skillet, but since I don’t own one, I use a small saucepan.  You can poach several eggs together if needed, just add them using separate bowls.

1 T apple cider vinegar
1 egg, broken into a small bowl

1)      1.   Place enough water in a small saucepan to cover the egg by one inch.  Add the apple cider vinegar.
2)       2.   Bring water and vinegar to a boil.  Using a slotted spoon, swirl the water and gently slide the egg out   of the bowl into the water.
3)       3.  Turn down the heat to between medium and medium high so the water is just simmering but not   boiling outright.
4)       4.  I cook the egg for 2 minutes 45 seconds for a very runny yolk.  I found that setting the timer for minutes didn’t give me enough time to get the egg out of the water and it set too quickly.
5)       5.  Remove the egg from the water using a slotted spoon and let it drain for a few seconds in mid-air.
6)       6.  Serve your egg with toast or on rice or any way you like!

The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray.  2005.
On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.  2004.
The New Best Recipe by America’s Test Kitchen.  2004.