Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gluten-Free Blueberry Cake

A great little snack. Here is a gluten-free variation of The Country Cook's version. And yes, it's been great as a breakfast treat. I made a double recipe, cut, and wrapped up half to freeze. I was not sure what flour mixture to use, but I've come to love an arrowroot and brown rice flour mix. If you'd like to learn more about mixing your own gluten-free flour mixes check out Gluten-Free Girl's posting. She breaks I all down for us novices. Now let's get down to business. 


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tsp orange or lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp GF vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup arrowroot 
  • 1&1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (cow milk, almond, hemp, or oat milks all work as well)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I prefer to use parchment paper and lined a 9X9 baking dish. You can also butter the dish instead. 
  2. I melted the butter because I did not have softened butter and it worked well. Add sugar, vanilla, and agave and beat with a mixer. 
  3. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl. 
  4. Save 1/4 cup flour flour blueberries.
  5. Slowly add in flour and milk alternating until all combined. 
  6. Toss blueberries in flour and then add to batter. 
  7. Bake for 60-80 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Gluten-free baking takes a really long time, but set a timer. I've forgotten a few times and it really sucks when you're expecting a tasty treat!) 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kombucha 101- what is kombucha?

This week Chef Fox went all out. He may be only 2, but he's got very sophistocated taste. On a whim while visiting the Lion Heart Kombucha shop in Portland, Oregon he was inspired to do some home brewing. Or shall I say, home fermenting. 

We left with a "SCOBY" (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) also called the "mother" in a jar and lots of excitement. 

A bit about kombucha for those of you who may be as skeptical as most are when first seeing the fermentation process. So what is kombucha? It just looks disgusting. Not to worry though, after filtering it will look more like the kombucha you're used to from the store. Kombucha is a probiotic drink that has many health benefits including tons of healthy bacteria, enzymes, and micronutrients. It has been made for thousands of years and is worth giving a try. 

Now for The Chef's process. 

Kombucha Recipe:

  • First, he got his SCOBY and ran a jar though the dishwasher. Or you could clean it with very hot water to get out any uninvited bacteria that may want to hitch a ride. Avoid soap, or at least make sure all soap is gone before beginning. Soap can really inhibit the growth process. 
  • Next, Chef Fox brewed up some strong green tea. Feel free to add any herbs you like. Chef Fox is a purist and just used premium Jasmine tea. He brewed about a quart, mixed one cup of plain white sugar in and let it cool completely. Other sweeteners would probably work, but the simple sugar works best because then the bacteria can break it down and use it for fuel more easily. Don't worry, your kombucha won't be intensely sweet after the bacteria have their way with it. 
  • When cooled, he dumped it into a large glass jar and added cool filtered water until almost full. 
  • Then, The Chef carefully poured the SCOBY into the jar. 
  • Lastly, he placed a clean rag on top of the jar and secured it with a big rubber band. 
  • And now we anxiously await. Checking on it every day or two to see what has happened. The SCOBY has grown exponentially.
  • When to your taste, filter using a small strainer. Usually, kombucha will take 3-5 days to be ready to bottle for the second fermentation. Just taste until almost all sweetness is gone, but your kombucha has not turned into vinegar. You can just stop here and bottle or do a second fermentation that will make your beverage fizzy. 
  • Put in bottle with a cap and keep in the fridge if you've chosen to be done here. 
  • If you chose to go for the second fermentation, add 1/4 cup sugar to the bottle and shake. Now let ferment for 2-3 weeks. If your kombucha is super sweet, then let sit longer and remember to use less sugar next time. 
  • When completely done, your drink should taste very mildly sweet. Cap and place in the fridge. 
Enjoy and begin your next batch because a huge jar only lasts about a week in our house.

Below is a picture of the next batch. We started it the same way, but instead of steeping just green tea, Chef Fox added a handful of elderberries, nettle leaf, red raspberry leaf, and peppermint to the brew. We let this steep for at least half an hour or until cool. Then we dumped the tea through a strainer into the kombucha jar. Now it will brew for 2-3 weeks or until it begins to change in taste. 


Don't leave your SCOBY without any liquid. Leave an inch or two to help feed the SCOBY until you begin your next batch and cover up. Otherwise you'll have drunk fruit flies around your house. And if you're not going to make a new batch for awhile, feed your little SCOBY with some water and sugar so it doesn't die. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Caprese Salad

So easy. It's tomato time and so get out your mozzarella. As simple as this recipe is, I often forget about this dish. And if you're Italian like me, you have no excuse. Now go pick some tomatoes and make your grandma proud! 

  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 lb mozzarella (big or small balls, if big then thinly slice them)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Slice tomatoes. Layer with basil leaves. Place mozzarella on side, or layer with tomatoes if using large size. Drizzle on oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper. Eat-

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blueberry Green Smoothie

Oh, there is nothing quite like a cold smoothie on a hot summers day, or really any day for that matter. 
Now, not every smoothie is equal. The keys to a good smoothie are banana and ice. Bananas add that creamy texture and sweetness that really makes a smoothie a good one. And the ice creates a frozen treat that seems like more desert than healthy drink. 

For my boys, it takes a little extra to get them to eat anything that is a veggie. So here is where I hide them. You'd never know this smoothie has beet greens and a superfoods powder. 

Blueberry Smoothie Recipe:
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 peach, pear, or nectarine
  • 1 banana (frozen is good if you've got some)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk 
  • 1 cup beet greens, spinach, or kale (stems removed if really tough)
  • 8 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop Amazing Grass Green Superfood (berry flavor is good and tons of nutrients. It has wheat in it but before the seeds are produced, it's supposed to be gluten-free and works well for us)
  • 2 tablespoons agave, honey, or maple syrup (if you want to make sure the kids will devour it)

Now, I love my new blender. I was skeptical, because it's advertised on TV. But The Ninja Professional Blender is really amazing. It has blades in the bottom, middle, and upper parts of the blender, so it works really well and fast. I must use it several times a week and it's a great smoothie maker. And when I saw two chefs standing in line to buy one, I was suckered in. 

So my point is, get out your blender.
Then, place all the ingredients in and blend away for about 1/2 minute or until smooth. Adjust with more ice or water until you get your desired consistency. I like mine like yogurt. Stick in a straw, or if you want to get fancy, add a few flowers and serve. Makes 3 large glassfuls. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gluten-Free Baked Berry Oatmeal

We must make this at least once to four times a month. It's huge but lasts about  a week. This is yet another inspired creation from one of my fave cooks, Heidi Swanson. This recipe was adapted from her newest book, Super Natural Everyday with a few adjustments for the finer pallets in the family. Mainly, Chef Fox. 

But as you see above, it passed the Hand Test. The Hand Test is a very good indicator of whether or not the dish will be a hit. If it doesn't even make it to the oven without a hand creeping over to steel a taste, it has passed. 



  • 2-3 large bananas (cut into slices)
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill because they ensure that their line of GF grains are truly gluten-free)
  • 1-2 cups finely shredded coconut
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts (or other favorite nuts)
  • 1/2-1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups almond milk (rice, soy, etc. work fine, but don't use regular milk. I tried it and the results were awful!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 10 drops liquid stevia (optional-if you like your sweeter)
  • 2-4 cups berries: I used blueberry and strawberries, but get creative!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large lasagna pan and layer the sliced bananas on the bottom in 1 to 2 layers. Then, mix up your dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl. Pour 1/2 of mixture over bananas. Add a layer of berries. And again the rest of the dry oat mixture. Top with the remaining berries. 

Mix all your wet ingredients, Chef Fox likes to add the butter last. Pour over oat mixture and give a few thunks of the pan to make sure it seeps all the way down into the pan and wets everything. It should look a bit wet and soggy on the top, but not swimming in liquid. Adjust as necessary. Now bake for 45 minutes. After taking out of the oven, let the oatmeal sit for at least 10 minutes to settle and cool off a bit. Enjoy with yogurt or milk or ice cream or simply alone. Add maple syrup as needed, because you know we all need a little maple syrup in our lives. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Zucchini Cranberry Bread- gluten-free, low sugar

If you haven't noticed, zucchinis are everywhere. If you live in a city, you just wouldn't understand. Take a big pot, plant yourself a zucchini plant, and put it out on your fire scape. Now watch it grow, and never stop. I had no idea of how much zucchini could come from one plant until I moved out of New Your City. 

But what to do with all that lovely squash? Bread. And you'd be surprised how amazing it tastes. For a good recipe, I turned to The Gluten Free Goddess. I am never disappointed by her recipes. Below is my version. I added I some butter (for taste and just because I love the stuff), cut down on the xanthan gum (texture is a bit odd sometimes and isn't always digested well), swapped out the brown sugar for coconut sugar , dates, and prunes (lower combined glycemic index, adds fiber, and good as a combo), added cranberries, and lastly increased the vanilla just because I could. It's passed my picky children's test, now you give it a try. 


  • 1 cup grated zucchini 
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour (Bob's Red Mill is wonderful and ensures gluten-freeness)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 6 dates (pitted of course)
  • 6 prunes1/3 cup melted butter (olive oil/ coconut oil if vegan)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (I use Native Forest, they have very sustainable practices)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries


  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter a 8x8 baking dish or lining it with parchment paper. Start by sifting all the dry ingredients together (not sugar). Grate the zucchini and place it all in an absorbent kitchen towel and wring all the moisture you can out of it. Put in a bowl and fluff with a fork. 

Next, place butter in oven or saucepan to melt. Combine dates, prunes, sugar, coconut milk, juice, and vanilla in a blender and mix until the dried fruits are well processed. Now add the eggs and melted butter and blend for a few seconds or until just mixed. 

Combine wet and dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add nuts and chocolate chips if using. Either cranberries or chocolate chips, don't go crazy here or you might wind up with a granola bar. Check after 60 minutes, but mine took almost an hour and a half. After adding the dried fruit, it made it a bit moister and took more time. But bake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. And let me know what you think!