wheat-free

Classic Baked Oatmeal

This summer, we ate baked oatmeal almost every morning. It was a hot summer, really hot, (locals said the hottest summer ever) but that didn't deter us from baking this because it was soooo good. We would mix it up the night before, and bake it in a toaster-oven the next morning. Sometimes we made it fancy by adding over-ripe mashed bananas, spice, nuts, chocolate... but mostly we made it plain, then drizzled some local honey over it. Yum. :)

The soaking of the oats overnight is magical. I've read in several places that soaking oats (or any flour) in liquid helps them become easier to digest. I knew that this was true with seeds, nuts, and beans (germinating/sprouting for better nutrition) but soaking flour was news to me. (I also read that using a slightly acidic liquid for flour is even better.) I'm still exploring this whole concept - you can learn more about it here and here. With the oats, soaking definitely gives them a fantastic texture.

I was inspired by this baked oatmeal that sounds awesome. I played with the recipe, and came up with this simple baked oatmeal that's hearty, healthy, and very satisfying. 

Here is the basic recipe:

1/4 c olive oil
2 large eggs (beaten)
2 Tbsp muscovado sugar
1 2/3 c milk
3 c old fashioned rolled oats (for gluten-free use gluten-free oats)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (sifted)

Feel free to play with the ingredients and ratios - this is a rustic forgiving recipe. Use any oil you like (coconut oil is nice too) or melted butter. You can use a milk substitute to make it dairy-free, and I think any good egg substitute would work here too. Sometimes I substitute half the milk for unsweetened apple juice - or use a combination of yogurt and water. (You can also use 2 Tbsp less milk if you like it more flaky.) Use whatever sweetener you like, more if you like things sweet, or no sweetener at all. I like the bit of flavor and browning the muscovado sugar provides. Sometimes I make a half batch in a loaf pan. Since it stores and re-heats so well, we often make a big batch (this is the big batch), keep the leftovers covered in the fridge, then re-heat pieces on a frying pan with butter or coconut oil. (My sweetie loves it this way best!)

Directions:

The super-easy way (+ nice texture):
The night before, mix everything together. Spread it in a greased 9"x9" pan. (I chill the pan in the freezer before greasing it with liquified coconut oil so that the oil solidifies and sticks to the pan, creating a better barrier.) Cover the pan and put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, bake it at 350 for about 40 minutes, or until golden.

Just as easy, but a bit more work in the morning:
The night before, mix everything together except the salt and the baking powder. This creates a more acidic soaking medium - especially if made with yogurt or juice. Keep the mixture in a covered container in the fridge overnight. The next day, mix the salt and baking powder in, and spread it in a greased 9"x9" pan. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, or until golden.

Makes about 9-12 servings.

Enjoy!

Really Awesome Black Bean Brownies

I've been playing around with black bean brownies for a while now, because they're so delicious and nutritious. Think about it, a dark chocolaty brownie made with protein and fiber-rich black beans that's also lower in fat and sugar than a traditional brownie but still has all the chocolate and flavor. Breakfast! They seem to make a lot of sense here in Mexico, the land of black beans and chocolate, so it's not surprising that my amigos here love them.

I've made 4 different variations of black bean brownies in the last few months, and all of them were super-yummy, but my most recent batch was awesome. I nailed the ingredient ratios, making a dark fudgy complex brownie that plays off of 5 different kinds of beans: black beans, cacao, carob, coffee, vanilla. I also used just enough natural sugars, just enough flavorful fat, just enough dark chocolate, and just enough booze to make these decadent and beautiful tasting without going over-board and making a sugar-coma inducing empty calorie-packed brownie. So as rich as these are, they're rich *and* healthy: full of fiber, protein, natural sugars, antioxidants, and love!

There is one unusual ingredient in these that may be hard to find, and that is carob syrup. I managed to score some in a little Asian import shop in the Zona Libre (the "Free Zone" between Mexico and Belize). Carob syrup is naturally sweet and delicious, great stuff, and you can probably find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores. But if you don't have it, you can still make these brownies and they'll be delicious with or without carob.

Really Awesome Black Bean Brownies
(aka 5-Bean Brownies)

Puree and blend together:

2 c cooked black beans
2 large eggs (or egg substitute)
*1/4 c carob syrup
1/4 c agave nectar or honey
1/4 c Kahlua liqueur (or brewed coffee)
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 c coconut oil or unsalted butter (melted)

Sift together, then blend into the wet ingredients:

1/2 c cocoa (preferably not Dutch cocoa)
2 Tbsp tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (use 1/4 tsp if your beans are salty or using salted butter, otherwise use 1/2 tsp)

Mix in:

1/3 - 1/2 c chopped dark chocolate

*If you can't find carob syrup, substitute 1/4 c carob syrup for:  2 Tbsp honey or agave + 2 Tbsp water +  3 Tbsp carob powder
*If you don't like carob, you can substitute 1/4 c carob syrup for:  1/4 c honey or agave +  2 Tbsp cocoa powder

Sugar-free: use brewed coffee instead of Kahlua. Substitute the chocolate for unsweetened carob chips (or sugar-free chocolate).

Egg-free or vegan: I'm pretty sure an egg substitute for 2 eggs would do the trick - if anyone tries please let us all know in the comments. See comment #18. Thanks Jen!

Grease and dust a smallish pan - I use a 10" x 7.5" stainless steel pan greased with coconut oil and dusted with icing sugar mixed with a bit of cinnamon (cocoa or carob works too). Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 till set - about 20 min. Allow to cool to room temperature then cut into squares. Store in a sealed container in the fridge - they'll firm up a bit - I really like these cold out of the fridge.

Quick & Easy Oat Bread

I love fresh corn tortillas, crunchy baked tostadas, savoury tamales, fresh popcorn and homemade cornbread as much as the next muchacha. But sometimes I need a break from corn. Since I have limited access to ingredients here in Mexico, where corn is king, what's a girl to do? Well I recently came up with my new favorite quick bread, that's very similar to cornbread in taste and texture, but made with grounds oats. It's quick and easy to make - and keeps well in the fridge for slicing and toasting or pan-frying.

Recipe: Quick Oat Bread

Enjoy ♥

Healthy Chia Banana Bars

Healthy Chia Banana Bars 3

My favorite breakfast these days: quick, easy, tasty, filling and super-healthy. All of the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find here in Mexico. Packed with whole grains and seeds, these squares are wheat-free, gluten-free (if made with gluten-free oats), dairy-free, egg-free, low in sugar, and high in fiber. Did I mention they're delicious?

Recipe: Chia Banana Bars

In our house, we eat these so often, we call them Chia Squares. But I thought Chia Banana Bars was more descriptive. What do you think?
Healthy Chia Banana Bars 2

PS: I've been super-busy working on an exciting new baking site - more about this soon!

Baking Banana Bread in Bacalar

I've been happily mucking about in the kitchen, baking with the little gas oven in the mornings when it's cool enough to do so. (Yes, I have an oven!) It's a fun challenge to bake-up delicious wheat-free healthy goods with the ingredients I have access to here.

The very first thing I whipped-up was a classic: hearty rustic banana bread, based on my recipe for Easy Gluten-free Banana Bread. Of course, I had to make a few alterations. I used a combination of white rice flour (surprisingly easy to find here) and home-made oat flour. My banana bread also had unrefined Mexican brown cane sugar (called piloncillo - delicious!), Mexican cinnamon (I always double the amount as it's more subtle than what I use in Canada), and of course - delectable aromatic Mexican vanilla. Local bananas, eggs, and a sprinkling of fresh pepitas on top - yum!

There's no aluminum-free baking powder here, or cream of tartar (so that I can make my own). Instead, I used a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and though my cake was a bit dense, the soda+acid did the trick.

I also used a small rectangular stainless steel pan, the only pan I brought from Canada, instead of a loaf pan. Worked like a charm.

The banana bread was hearty and delicious (though I'd like to make a few tweaks before sharing the recipe...) It made a lovely breakfast, enjoyed with my sweetie and a cup of exquisite Chiapas coffee in a hammock watching the sunrise. La vida es buena. Life is good.


Thanks for the awesome pic Crispin.

Whole Almond Bread

Here's my new favorite protein-rich quick bread, made with whole ground almonds, eggs, and yogurt.

Recipe: Whole Almond Bread

It's a really substantial and dense loaf, having 2 1/2 cups of whole almonds. Grinding the almonds is pretty easy too: just pulse them in a blender or food processor.

I based my recipe on this one. It's taken me several delicious experiments come up with my own version of this satisfying bread - note the summer photo!  The last one I made domed very nicely on top - wish I took a photo - oh well. ;)

Great for slicing and toasting. You can also pan-fry slices in a bit of
butter, then serve topped with fruit and maple syrup "french toast"
style - yum!

This healthy satisfying (delicious) bread is wheat-free, gluten-free, corn-free, soy-free, yeast-free, and sugar-free. (You could probably make it dairy-free by using soy yogurt.)

Enjoy ♥

Festive Persian Cookies


Nan-e Nokhodchi (Roasted Chickpea Four-Leaf Clover Cookies). Image from Vegtarian Times

I'm back on the scene with some great recipes to share. (Selling our condo + (moving x 2) = super busy...) I have a couple of killer recipes to post before taking off for Mexico too - but first, Persian cookies!

I love Persian cookies. They're aromatic, pretty, and wonderfully flavoured with awesome things like rose water, cardamom, cinnamon, honey, saffron, pistachios, almonds, walnuts... perfect for festive cookie season. Here are some classics from the web, all wheat-free, beautifully flavoured, shortbread-like, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Nan-e Gerdui (Walnut Cookies with cardamom, topped with pistachios)
A fantastic cookie recipe + a history lesson.

Persian Rice Cookies
A traditional aromatic and delicate little cookie flavoured with rosewater, cardamom, and adorned with pistachios.

Another recipe for Persian Rice Cookies from an accomplished traveling food blogger. Included on this page are 3 other stellar cookie recipes from around the world. I love the sounds of the Ricciarelli (Sienese Almond Cookies): "Snow-white outside and meltingly soft inside, they're a fragrant, cloudlike version of the best marzipan you've ever eaten." Yum!

Rice Flour Poppyseed Cookies (naan-e berenji)

A middle eastern shortbread-like cookie flavoured with orange blossom water and poppyseeds. Super step-by-step photos. Check out this recipe for Rice Flour Butter Cookies from the same blog. (I'd up the rosewater to 3 tsp - I'm a freak for aromatic cookies.) Good stuff.

Nan-e Nokhodchi (Roasted Chickpea Four-Leaf Clover Cookies)
I LOVE these cookies, and like this recipe because of the easy directions, flavourings, and great photo. Here's another recipe for the same cookie made with half ghee and half oil, rather than all oil. (I prefer the addition of ghee, and the extra cardamom in this recipe.)

Gluten-Free Cardamom Shortbread
Here's a wonderful sounding treat, made with rice flour and inspired by Persian cookies. I'd increase the cardamom to at least 1/2 tsp.. I can't help it. ;)

Please share your favourite Persian and Middle Eastern cookie recipes in the comments. Happy festive baking!

Inspiring Elegant Flourless Cakes

I was so happy to come across these elegant and inventive cake recipes by Jacqueline Mallorca. Each cake has a wonderful balance of fine ingredients, and they all happen to be wheat-free and gluten-free:

Flourless Carrot Cake Recipe
Flourless Zucchini Cake Recipe
Portuguese Almond And Potato Cake Recipe

How inspiring - I'm looking forward to trying these out!

Jacqueline Mallorca is an accoplished chef and baker with several highly acclaimed cookbooks - as well as a super-cool name. Thank you thank you Trish for sharing these recipes online. 

Chocolate Chip Almond Banana Bread

After several delightfully tasty experiments, I came up with my new favourite banana bread:

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Almond Banana Bread

Made with freshly-ground whole almonds, natural sugars, vanilla, nutmeg, and dark chocolate (to mention just a few of the stellar ingredients) it's incredibly flavourful, moist, and heathy too. The almonds give the bread a satisfying bite, and lend their own natural sweetness. Speaking of sweet, I've tweaked the sugar (agave nectar) till it hit that wonderful sweet but not-too-sweet balance, which allows all the flavours and textures to shine. This recipe is dairy optional, wheat and gluten-free. Use high quality dark chocolate chips for a supremely delicious treat. I'm not one to push brands, but Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips are pretty awesome!

Happy healthy baking :-)

(Wheat-free & Gluten-free) Chocolate Zucchini Cake

It's still chocolate and zucchini season, so after scoring a hefty dark green beauty, I stayed in on a Saturday night and made this delicious cake. (Really, I had every opportunity to go out, but I wanted to stay in and bake ;-) Like my Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Cake, it's a variation of my grandma's super-rich traditional recipe, which I've updated to be wheat-free (+ gluten-free) and lower in refined ingredients, sugar and fat. This version is moist, rich and airy with a delicate blend of aromatic ingredients + extra chocolate.

Recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Enjoy ♥