GF/CF Raspberry Pecan Streusel Muffins

Christmas has come and gone in a blur of family, feasts, and wine. So many great meals, and such good company. My kitchen was organized chaos, with the welcome help of sure hands in the kitchen. The pots and pans clanged and banged, the mixer whirred, and the flours flew. It was a time I can't remember, but will never forget.

Before the year ends I want to share one last holiday recipe. These simple yet festive muffins were perfect on Christmas morning.

GF/CF Raspberry Pecan Streusel Muffins 
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009
Adapted from “The 250 Best Muffin Recipes” by Esther Brody

Pecan Streusel Topping
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
1/4 cup GF flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill GF Pancake mix!)
2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery stick

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup potato starch (or tapioca starch or cornstarch)
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup vanilla hemp milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance Vegan Buttery stick (one stick)
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, unsweetened

Preheat oven to 375°
12-cup muffin tin, greased or lined with paper cups

1. In a bowl combine pecans, brown sugar, and flour mix. Add melted butter; mix until crumbly. Set aside.

2. In a bowl combine flours, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, whisk until thoroughly mixed. Make a well in the center.

3. In another bowl combine hemp milk, butter and egg, mix well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moist. Don’t over-mix.

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling cups half full. Add four or five raspberries to each cup. Top with remaining batter. Sprinkle with streusel topping.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned. 

Note: If you can’t have soy products, use organic vegetable shortening instead of the Earth Balance sticks.

Another note: A few blueberries added to the raspberries wouldn't hurt.


GF/CF Lemon Blueberry Tea Bread

Lemon Tea Bread always makes an appearance in my oven this time of year. I make lots of it to give away. With the addition of blueberries and pecans, it is my version of fruitcake. On rare occasions, when I still have huckleberries in the freezer from my August harvest, the bread is studded with those purple jewels. The bread bursts with lemon and berry, a sweet/tart delight.

Converting my old recipe to gluten and dairy free took a little experimenting. I have tweaked the flour blend a few times, and am happy with this one. The butter in the original recipe was first substituted with canola oil, which resulted in a good texture, but lacked in the buttery flavor. I tried coconut oil. The coconut flavor, although quite delicious in most cases, just created a little too much depth in flavors. I still wanted the butter flavor. Earth Balance to the rescue! I am so excited about using Earth Balance Buttery Sticks in baking. They really are an amazing way to get the flavor and baking properties of butter without the dreaded lactose. 

Get baking!

GF/CF Lemon Blueberry Tea Bread
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009 

3/4 cup almond milk or coconut milk
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick (one cube), melted
2 tbsp grated lemon peel

2/3 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cornstarch or potato starch
1/3 cup millet flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/3 cup sugar
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350º.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, melted buttery stick, and lemon peel. Whisk until well blended.

2. In another mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the wet ingredients, beat until just moistened and all the flour is mixed in. Fold in the pecans and blueberries. Pour batter into four buttered small loaf pans. Bake 40 - 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Place hot pan on cooling rack.

3. As the bread is baking, mix the glaze in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the bread is out of the oven and on the cooling rack, spoon the glaze over the loaves, still in the baking pan. (this is messy because the glaze will spill over the edges. Put wax paper down under the cooling rack for easy clean-up. It helps to run a knife around the inside edges of the pan before you spoon the glaze so the glaze can find its way inside the pan instead of outside.)

Let the loaves cool for about 15 minutes in the pan so they can soak up the glaze, then take them out to cool on the wire rack.


GF/CF Sugar Cookies

Who says Christmas cookies have to be fancy.

Here is one of my favorite Christmas cookies. It is a simple sugar cookie. No glam. No glitter. Just a humble drop cookie. The taste? Absolutely delicious. The texture? Delicate crunch on the outside, soft on the inside.

No need to chill the dough, roll it, or cut it into seasonal shapes. No fuss over frosting and decorating. In other words, fast and easy. Perfect.

I have been making this cookie for years, gluten-free for a year. The flour mixture in this dough includes almond flour, which adds richness and flavor. I usually use organic shortening in cookies, but for these I used half shortening and half Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (soy based), which results a more buttery taste. 

These probably won't be around long enough to think about freezing them, but just so you know, they freeze well.

GF/CF Drop Sugar Cookies
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup almond flour (not almond meal)
1/2 cup corn starch or tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
dash salt

1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (one stick)*
1/2 cup organic shortening
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp organic cane sugar for rolling

Heat oven to 350º.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the nine dry ingredients. Sift the mixture into another small mixing bowl, set aside. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine buttery stick with shortening, and cream in the sugar with a hand mixer. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add the sifted flour mixture in three stages, stirring well to combine.

Roll the dough by hand into one-inch balls. Roll the balls in sugar, and place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until just barely starting to turn color around the edges. The center will look doughy, but they will continue to bake as they cool. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*If you can't have soy, just use one cup of shortening. They will still be fantastic. 

Check out my recipe for GF/CF Rolled Sugar Cookies.


Buckwheat and Huckleberries

This morning, hot cereal sounded good. Winter has arrived. The fallen leaves carpeting my lawn are edged and iced with a beautiful sparkling frost. The birdbath is an ice rink. Creamy hot buckwheat cereal sounded just right.

Buckwheat sure was stuck with a bum name. There is nothing wheaty about it. It is not a grain. It is not a grass. It is actually in the fruit family, related to rhubarb. So of course it is gluten-free. The nutritional benefits are huge. Buckwheat has one of the highest sources of protein found in plants. It is rich in lysine and fiber. Read more about the nutritional benefits of buckwheat here.

Buckwheat flour is an interesting addition to gluten-free four blends, adding an earthy flavor. The groats make a delicious hot cereal, which is what I made this morning. I use Bob's Red Mill Creamy Buckwheat Cereal, and more brands are out there. Following package directions, it cooks quickly in just about 10 minutes. I always add nuts and fruit to it after it cooks, sometimes as it is cooking. Today, after it was cooked and dished up, I poured a little vanilla hemp milk and a touch of maple agave syrup over it, then sprinkled huckleberries and toasted slivered almonds on top. The finishing touch was a dusting of cinnamon. How easy and nutritious is that! All the good stuff in the buckwheat, plus the protein and the omega fatty acids in the hemp milk, the antioxidants in the huckleberries, the protein in the almonds, and the heart-healthy attributes of the cinnamon.

Buckwheat and huckleberries. What a delicious way to start the day.


Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Snickerdoodles

What a great name for a cookie. If there is such a thing as a retro cookie, this is it.  

This recipe goes way way back, to a little spiral bound cookbook put together by some moms in the early '60s as a PTA fundraiser. These old cookbooks are real gems. The greatest recipes lay hidden among the jello concoctions and mystery meat casseroles.  

This was one of them. It is a classic. Snickerdoodles has always been my family's favorite cookie. I have made thousands of them. My kids have made thousands of them. Now I make them with different flours, and they are still just as good.

Gluten-Free Snickerdoodles 
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009 

1 cup shortening (I use Spectrum Organic) 
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar 
2 eggs 
1 cup millet flour 
1 cup sorghum flour  
3/4 cup corn starch 
2 tsp xanthan gum 
3 tsp cream of tarter 
1 1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 

Rolling mixture:  2 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves 

Heat oven to 350º.

Mix the shortening and sugar with an electric blender until creamy. Add eggs, and mix until incorporated.  

Combine all the dry ingredients (except the rolling mixture) in a bowl, and stir with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Sift dry mixture into shortening mixture in 3 stages, blending each time until dry is incorporated. The last stage will have to be stirred by hand because the dough will be stiff.  

Roll the dough into one-and-one-half-inch balls, then roll the balls in the sugar/spice mixture. Place 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet, and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. The cookies will flatten out when baking, and they will get their characteristic cracking toward the end. Leave them to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire wrack to cool.

Guide to Gluten-Free Flours

When we began the journey into gluten-free land, the confusing array of flour choices was frustrating. Who knew so many wheat alternatives existed! I, like most, began with a combination of brown rice flour and starch. (We have never used white rice flour because, for reasons that confound us, Annie can't tolerate white rice. No big deal though. White rice is void of nutrients.) I soon found that this combination resulted in a gritty product with a funky taste. When I learned to combine two or three gluten-free flours with one or two starches, things got better.  Along the way we discovered which flours work for us and which don't.  Right now, we like a blend of millet, sorghum, and tapioca or cornstarch.

Successful gluten-free baking and cooking is really just a matter of figuring out which flour combinations work best for you. But it helps to have some sort of map to point you in the right direction. I just found a very helpful guide in the latest issue of Living Without magazine. It lists the properties of each flour, along with how to use it and what to watch out for. It also includes a chart showing nutritional information for 33 different flours. Did you know that almond flour is the highest in calories and fat of all the flours, but the lowest in carbs? Or that green pea flour has 11 grams of protein in just 1/4 cup?

Click here for the gluten-free flour guide. I hope you find it to be helpful!


Gluten-Free, Dairy -Free Pumpkin Muffins

The past month in the Northwest has been visually amazing. The autumn color has been stunning. To me, the fall colors are the best of Nature's palette. The yellows, oranges, and crimsons sprinkled among the bases of the tall evergreens beside my house inspired me to add a little color and texture to pumpkin muffins. The flavors of autumn and the colors of autumn mingling in a muffin.

Pumped Up Pumpkin Muffins
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009

3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1 cup cane sugar
2 tbsp flax meal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
1/3 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/3 cup light olive oil
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Mix flours, potato starch, sugar, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in large mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.

In a smaller bowl, stir together the eggs, pumpkin, almond milk, and oil. Whisk until well blended.

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until well blended, being careful not to over beat. Fold in cranberries, apricots, and pecans.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups all the way to the top. Sprinkle tops with muscovado sugar, if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffins from pan and cool on a wire rack. Any muffins that you don't intend to eat within a couple of days should be frozen for later use. After they are completely cooled, wrap individually in plastic wrap, then in foil, and freeze. After they are frozen place them all in a large plastic freezer bag, labeled with content name and date. To thaw, unwrap and place on the counter for about 15 minutes.


Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Gingersnaps

One reason I look forward to the holidays is because it justifies my primal urge to bake. Since my move into gluten-free, I bake twice as much - the original version of my recipes for my gluten and dairy eaters, and the gluten-free and dairy-free versions for Annie and me and our GF/CF friends. I really enjoy playing the kitchen scientist, tweaking my ingredients to make the taste and texture of the GF/CF version match that of the original. It's kind of a game. I win when no one can figure out which one is "real" and which one is "fake." (not my labels. Theirs.)

When I first started baking without gluten, I did what most do. I tried recipes in gluten-free cookbooks. I learned quickly that just because a recipe is in a cookbook doesn't necessarily mean it's good. (Although I did find some fantastic recipes in some of the cookbooks!)  I never did find a recipe for gingersnaps with the taste and texture that I was after, so I just did what I should have done from the very beginning. I went to my old tried and true recipe, using GF/CF substitutions. This re-do is every bit as good as the original. Maybe better. I hope it becomes one of your favorites too.

Gluten-free Gingersnaps
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009 

1 1/2 cups millet flour
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cream of tarter
2 tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves

3/4 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Pre-heat oven to 325º.
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, whisk until combined.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and sugar until creamy, stir in the eggs, molasses, and vinegar. Stir until well combined. Add the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Roll in one-inch balls, then roll the balls in sugar. Bake on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for about 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. The recipe makes about 36 cookies. If the cookies are not gone in a couple of days, they need to be frozen. (I usually freeze half as soon as they are cooled). Just stack them in a freezer bag, and get out as much air as you can, and freeze. When you are ready for a treat, thaw on the counter for about 15 minutes.

Ingredients note: Use organic ingredients when you can, and evaporated cane juice instead of refined sugar. 


A Guide to Natural Sweeteners

The holidays are just around the corner, and visions of dancing sugarplums are no doubt becoming hard to ignore. So much of our holiday culture is about the food, and especially about the sweets. I think we all have childhood memories of sweets that made an appearance only once a year, elevating them to the top of the "all-time favorite goodies" list. The emotional attachments to our holiday sweets is strong. As a child, my favorite holiday candies were my grandmother's penuche and fudge, and my mother's divinity. I have always associated these candies with Christmas and visa versa.

We all have our favorite holiday cookies, cakes, candies, and desserts that we look forward to sharing every year with our families and our friends. Why not make these goodies healthier. The refined sugar called for in most recipes can be replaced with natural alternatives. The result? Goodies that make you feel good, and make your life better.

Last year around this time I found an excellent guide to natural sweeteners on the website of my local organic co-op, PCC (Puget Consumer Cooperative). Here is the link. I hope you find the information useful. I certainly have.


Giddy up!

A gluten-free journey

The path to gluten-free began in 2007.

Some in my family, including me, can't tolerate gluten. Some can't tolerate dairy. Some can't tolerate gluten OR dairy. Like most others new to the world of gluten-free, we found that most things available in stores were disappointingly bland and horribly void of nutrition. We did not want to settle for mediocre. So, I set off to adapt our favorite things to GF/CF. I love to cook and bake, so it was natural to just go into the kitchen and start experimenting.

Becoming a gluten-free cook was at first a rocky road, becoming familiar with the characteristics of each flour, and learning the right balance of flours and starches. The most important thing I learned was that there is no right solution, just alternatives. It’s just a matter of finding which alternative you like best. My objective was not to just make something that was okay for being gluten-free, but something that was amazing and delicious, and oh, by the way, it’s gluten and dairy free.

I am here to share those recipes with you.

So off we go. Saddle up!


Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

The first recipe to share? Chocolate chip cookies, of course! Classic. Comforting. What is better than an ooey gooey warm chocolate chip cookie. A delicate crunch on the outside, and nirvana on the inside. This recipe evolved from my trusty old pre-GF recipe. The cookie in the banner on the top of this page? That is this. You will love these, and when your gluten eating friends snitch one, they will never know the difference.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2009
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Sift together dry ingredients, set aside.

Combine oil and sugar in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer on medium high speed. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until creamy. Add vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop up 2 inch dollops of dough (no need to be precise), and drop 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Flatten slightly.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Let me know how these work for you.

Ingredients note: Use organic ingredients when you can, and evaporated cane juice instead of refined sugar.
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