Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gluten-Free Walnut Brownies

Butter, chocolate, walnuts, sugar, what could be better? And oh yes, healthy too. Pretty healthy.
I've stayed away form brownies for awhile because I didn't want to be disappointed by the gluten-free aspect. Now, I can enjoy again. Oh my, you have to try these. 

  • 1 cup almonds 
  • 2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 12 tablespoons coconut oil (vegan) or butter (cut up)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut sugar (or other sweetener of choice)
  • 6 drops stevia extract
  • 2-3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs (to replace eggs, use 1 tbs ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbs water per egg) 
  • 2 tbs ground flax/chia seed mix mixed with 2 tbs water (optional)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or other fave nut
A note about using the flax/chia mix. If you haven't yet read up on my new discovery, it's time to try it out. Ground flax seeds mixed with ground chia seeds when combined with water create a gluten-like substance that can be a great substitute for xanthan gum. I've stopped using xanthan gum because it can often cause digestive issues and so I've traded it in for this mix. It's optional in this recipe, but it makes the brownies hold together better. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 8 x 8 square cake pan with parchment paper. 
Place chocolate chips in oven until melted, but not burnt. 
While chips are melting, put almonds in a food processor and grind to a meal or just use almond meal. 
I use fresh almonds because the good fats in them are preserved better than if in meal form previously. 
Mix almond meal with rice flour and salt in a bowl. 

Take melted chips out of oven to cool off a bit. 
In a large bowl, using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers, combine butter and sugar until it looks like cornmeal. 
Now ad in melted chocolate chips and mix in. 

Next mix eggs (or fax mix if using), flax/chia mix, stevia, and vanilla in a separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix well. 

Now add flour mixture to wet mixture and mix until just combined. 
Add nuts and fold in. 

Bake for about 60 minutes. I know, you're probably sick of my vague timing, but keep an eye on it and use a toothpick to tell when it's done (when it comes out clean).  I would bake a double bath next time, these went oh so fast! Enjoy your gluten-free brownies!

Try adding 1/2 cup mixed pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in at end. Grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder until they are not yet a fine powder, but won't be too noticed by those picky fingers. Results are still very good, but a but bit denser. Great nutty taste and increases the essential fatty acids! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Best Gluten-Free Quinoa Cookies

I had my doubts, but it's true you can make really good cookies and have them be healthy. Quinoa is the only grain that is a whole protein and has tons of vitamins and minerals. It's also so easy to cook...about 10 minutes and no fuss.

I added both sugar and dates to these cookies for some variety and it still keeps the glycemic index down a bit.
Here's the good stuff:


  • 1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill GF flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature or melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or other sweetener)
  • 12 pitted dates
  • 2 eggs (or 2 tablespoons flax seed processed with 2 tablespoons water, mix until frothy)
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces or other favorite nut


Preheat oven to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. 
Using a food processor, mix butter, sugar, and dates until it becomes a paste. 
Add eggs and extracts and mix until fluffy.
Remove from processor and transfer to a large bowl. 
Mix in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. 
Then, add quinoa, oats, cranberries, and nuts. 
Spoon dough in 2-tablespoon portions onto prepared sheets.
Bake cookies until golden, approximately 30 minutes. Timing is tricky with gluten free baking, so just check on them until they are a nice golden brown-blondish. 
Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
These can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pickle Time

Pickling made easy. This year we went for the organic pickles. Pickling takes time and good oven mitts, but it's sure worth the effort. Pickled cukes are amazing and you can make tons of variations on our canning recipe below. There are lots of pickle recipes out there but here's our favorite:

How to pickle: 
  1. Buy your pickles straight from the farm if you can, if not try the farmers market, if not try to get the freshest store bought pickles possible. 
  2. Soak in an ice water bath for 3 hours to overnight. (Makes crisper pickles)
  3. Run jars through dishwasher or boil-sanitize. 
  4. Prepare your rack and canning tongs or Ball Canning Basket (my new favorite canning tool! So much easier.)
  5. Boil lids and screw tops in basket for a few minutes. I used Tatter canning lids this time and love them. The are BPA free and reusable unlike metal lids. A bit more tricky to use, but easy if you follow instructions well. 
  6. Put large canning pot with enough space with 2 jars submerged and bring to a boil.
  7. Begin brine on a large pot. For 12 quarts of pickles, appoximately 12 lbs of pickles, we used the recipe below:
    • 18 cups filtered water
    • 6 cups apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup salt
    • a handful of peppercorns and mustard seed
    • a whole bunch of dill (about 2-3 seed heads per jar)
    • 12 bay leaves
  8. Bring brine to a boil and turn off after a few minutes.
  9. Use 2-3 grape leaves in the bottom of each jar or a 1/4 tsp of Pickle Crisp Granules
  10. Add 2-4 pealed garlic cloves to each jar.
  11. Add any other herbs (I added lavender to the jar below and who knew it was going to taste so good!) 
  12. Take pickles out of bath and rinse again to clean as you pack them into the jars as tight as possible. 
  13. Then ladle brine into jars leaving 1/2 inch of room at top. 
  14. Wipe rims clean and place lids on. Do not secure tightly, leave them a bit loose to let air escape when in pot.
  15. If using basket, put 2 jars in at a time. Kind of a pain in the ass, but it's all that will fit. Otherwise place a few jars on your rack and let it do it's business for about 15 minutes. Water has to cover tops by a few inches! Otherwise air won't be able to escape and vacume won't be created. 
  16. Take jars out and if you have to move them, be very careful and just let them sit there until they are cooled. If you mess with them too much, the seal could get disturbed. 
  17. After processing all the jars, just let them sit and cool. When they are done, take screw caps off and test seal by pushing down on the top to see if it gives at all (for metal lids) or tapping a bit on the side of the lid to see if it moves (if using Tatter lids). 
  18. If you have a tight seal, it is time to screw the caps down (or not, if you choose) and put up on a shelf where you can admire them! 
  19. Your pickles will be ready to eat in a week, but are best after 3 weeks and good up until a year. 

Below were last years, very colorful! The above recipe is just for your classic dill pickle, nothing so fancy.