Thursday, March 29, 2012

Avocado Mania: Avocado Chickpea Quick Bread

Sometimes the planets align.

When a box full of avocados arrives on your doorstep, it just makes sense to bake with it, right?

When Tess at Healthy Blender Recipes told me about a Kitchen Aid giveaway she is running in April, and asked if I wanted to participate in her month of Gluten-Free Baking ideas with a Kitchen Aid mixer, I jumped at the chance. After all, I needed to create something delicious with those avocados, right?

Avocado Chickpea Quick Bread

1 medium avocado (mashed) (1/2 cup)
1 ½ cups gluten-free flour blend (192 grams)
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (90 grams)
½ tsp xantham gum
3 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup light brown sugar
3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tsp Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 tbsp warm water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup original hemp milk
1 tbsp lime juice

Notes: Use your favorite gluten-free flour blend.

Directions: Mash the avocado until it is mostly smooth. Combine the dry ingredients and set them aside. Combine the wet ingredients with a Kitchen Aid mixer. Add the avocado and blend for a minute on medium speed. Add the dry ingredients and blend on medium until smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for 42-44 minutes.

This makes a smooth bread that can be served with strawberry jam for breakfast, sliced for sandwiches at lunch, or served as a side with dinner. Enjoy! (And don't forget to enter the contest at Healthy Blender Recipes in April.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Plenty of Plentils

(Forgive me for the headline, I couldn't help myself.)

Enjoy Life has introduced another allergen-free snack for those who need to avoid wheat, milk, eggs, soy, and nuts. I was very excited when they sent me a box of Plentils to try:

Don’t you just love the colors and the packaging?

Why are they called Plentils? Because they are made from lentils. I continue to be amazed at some of the foods that can be created by combining ingredients like lentils with potato starch, oils, powder, and spices – like this product does.

Enjoy Life Foods bills them as a chip, and they are something between a chip and a cracker. The scooped shape makes them reminiscent of Tostitos Corn Scoops – but these do not try to mimic a corn taste. Instead, the taste is uniquely Plentils.

Now, I’ll be honest, I like potato chips and corn chips, and they are easy enough to find without food allergens, so an allergen-free chip wasn’t on the top of my list of foods to replace. But, Plentils are low fat (about 40%) less fat, and they come in flavors – dill and sour cream, garlic and parmesan (my favorite of the bunch), margherita pizza (with a bit of a tang), and light sea salt (the mildest of the quartet). All of them (of course) are dairy-free. The sour cream and cheese tastes are simulated.

Have you tried Plentils yet? What do you think?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Avocados? Yes, Please

Last month I tortured enticed you with chocolate truffles. I even created a truffle mania pinboard on Pinterest. But you may be happy to know that the truffle making has subsided (for now) and I just might be talking a lot about avocados over the next month.

Can you imagine what it’s like to live and work on an avocado ranch? That’s what my friend Mimi Holtz (aka @mimiavocado) does with her family in California. I met Mimi last August at the BlogHer conference in San Diego and learned for the first time that not all avocados are the same. Being an East Coast girl, the avocados I am used to seeing are Haas avocados at the grocery store.

But I’ve been itching to try different varieties, and especially – to bake with them. So I was very excited to be able to order some Fuerte avocados from California Avocados Direct. (Hurry – they are running a March madness sale on these avocados.)

Did you know that the avocado is a fruit? Within the fruit family, I thought that it may be classified as a drupe (like a peach), but it’s actually classified as a berry (with a single seed).

What’s the difference between a Haas avocado and a Fuerte avocado? Fuerte avocados have a thinner skin, which can actually be peeled back. They stay green (even when ripe) whereas the skin of a Haas avocado will turn black when ripe.

These Fuerte avocados are so tender they practically melt in your mouth. Mimi tells me that the Californians look forward to Fuerte avocado season the same way we look forward to tomato season on the East Coast. To learn more about avocados, visit Mimi's blog about life on an avocado ranch.

So, the question now is – what should I do with all of these avocados? I have pinned a few avocado recipes to try (check out my board on Pinterest). What do you think I should make?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lots of Goodies (and More Tuffles!)

My son is home for a few days for spring break, and since he missed out on my February truffle mania, I decided I need to make a few more for him. But first, I knew he'd be longing for some brownies, so I baked up a batch of Raspberry Brownie Bites:

For this recipe I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Brownie Mix (with substitutions). The recipe is in my upcoming book!

Now, about those truffles. They all start with the basic truffle recipe. I added chopped sweetened cranberries to one batch, and orange zest to the other, then I coated them with three different toppings:

Ground crisped rice cereal (I used Erewhon gluten-free)
Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (oh my, these are decadent!)


To coat the truffles with cocoa or crisped rice cereal, simply roll them in their topping. To make the chocolate chip coated truffles, you will need to gently press the truffles into the chocolate chips. This is best done when the truffles are cold.

My new all-time favorite are Cranberry Truffle Pops with Mini Chips:

At least I don't have to eat them all myself!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wayfare Non-Dairy Gluten-Free Products

Who would think that a product made from millet, lima beans, rice, and oats could look or taste anything remotely like chocolate pudding? The folks at Wayfare did – and they created a line of vegan, gluten-free, non-dairy foods around ideas like that one!

I was lucky enough to receive a box of samples from Wayfare to try, which means (drumroll…) product review time!

They sent me three puddings – the usual suspects – chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch. Guess which I decided to try first?

The chocolate pudding looks as creamy and luscious as any traditional pudding would. Wayfare’s non-dairy version contains water, millet, lima beans, rice, oat bran, oats, evaporated cane juice, safflower oil, coconut oil, natural cocoa powder, tapioca, natural vanilla flavor, sea salt, locust bean gum, calcium carbonate, and cultured dextrose. All of the ingredients are vegan, dairy-free, and soy-free. All of the oats are certified gluten-free. Yippee!!

While I was impressed by the ingredients list, I couldn’t imagine that this combination could taste like chocolate. I was truly pleasantly surprised by the chocolate pudding. (Keep in mind that I am very picky about my chocolate.) It was smooth and creamy, and – while not the richest chocolate taste – definitely satisfying.

Wayfare’s mission statement is: To work unselfishly for the benefit of all people by creating simple, delicious, healthful, plant-based foods, that will promote life and not bring disease.

Gotta love it.

In addition to the puddings, Wayfare sent me some non-dairy cheeses and sour cream to try. I’m busy dreaming up something to make with those!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gluten-Free Diets Analyzed – The Good News and The Bad News

I came across an article in Food Navigator-USA titled Gluten-free diets may be unnecessary for many, suggest researchers, that got my antlers spinning. The research referred to is a commentary published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which suggests that many Americans may be limiting their diets unnecessarily, as there is no accepted definition of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It’s a similar argument to the one we’ve been hearing about food allergies being over-diagnosed because there is a difference between food allergy and food intolerance.

Are you ready? Here goes my rant:

I understand why some medical professionals want to be able to clearly define a diagnosis. I understand that in their world, it matters whether it’s celiac disease, or a food allergy, or intolerance, or something else. These conditions differ in terms of how they affect the body.

But if you are the person (or the parent of a child) who doesn’t feel well after eating a food, and you know that by choosing not to eat it you will feel better, then the answer is simple – eat something else. As a consumer, a food allergy parent, and someone who is gluten-intolerant, the solution to the problem is that same.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if a food makes you sick, you shouldn’t eat it.

But I promised you there was good news, and there is! According to the article, the market for gluten-free products has grown 30% from 2006 to 2010, and is expected to grow even more. The article states that the market research organization Packaged Facts estimates the market to be more than $2.6 billion in 2010, and predicts that it could be as much as $5.5 billion in 2015.

Why is this good news? It means that people with food sensitivities (of all kinds) are speaking with their dollars and their food choices. It means that the food manufacturers are stepping up to the plate to address the need. It means that we will have more choices, and more foods on the grocery store shelves that we can eat. And that makes me happy! What about you?

Monday, March 5, 2012

I’m Going!

I am excited because there are some terrific events coming up that I am planning to attend.

I have always wanted to go to the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo in Chicago (April 14-15), and this year I decided that I must go. I may not have gone just for the Expo, but – for the first time – there is a conference for bloggers (The Nourished Food Blogger Conference) the day before the expo. How convenient is that? That did it for me – I will be there!

One of the great things about attending a gluten-free/allergen-free conference and expo is – the food!! I’m pretty sure I won’t have to worry about finding something I can eat.

Then, just a couple short weeks later is the FAAN conference in Tarrytown – and I always try to go when it’s in New York! So I will be attending that event on April 28th.

Who else is going? If you’re planning to be at any of these events please let me know. I’d love to meet you!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Picks for the Liebster Award!

A few weeks ago, Anu Rao at Allergy Foodie picked my blog for the Liebster Award. Yeah! And thank you Anu! I’ve been following Anu for a while, and I love her point of view on issues and (of course) her recipes.

Liebster is a German word for “Good Friend,” and I am honored that Anu picked me! Each recipient is supposed to pass the award on to five of their favorite blogs, and you will see my picks in a second.

First, the rules.
To accept this award you must:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and Paste the Award to your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the word and love to other bloggers.
5. Have fun.

Now, I must say that picking only five blogs for this award was tough, as there are so many great food allergy blogs out there. But here goes…

My winners are:

Lisa at Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery – I first discovered Lisa’s blog during the Circle of Moms search for the best food allergy blogs. I absolutely love her photos!

Jenny at Multiple Food Allergy Help – Jenny tells it like it is when it comes to food allergies, and is among the best at passing on critical information.

Jennifer at Food Allergy Buzz – This is one of the first food allergy blogs I followed. Jennifer disappeared for a while in 2011, but she’s back in 2012 – with a mission! And she runs the Food Allergy Blog Carnival.

Karen at Avoiding Milk Blog – Karen’s blog is a great place to find out the nuts and bolts of products.

Tessa at Tessa the Domestic Diva – Tessa and a few of her friends recently started Allergy-Friendly Wednesdays – a place to find and share great recipes.

Congratulations to these food allergy bloggers!! Every one of them meets the qualification of “good friend” to families with food allergies. Be sure to check out their blogs.