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Last Minutes Christmas Gift, copyright 2013 gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Just a brief update on our temporary absence from the blogging scene. These last few months have been ultra busy and challenging for both of us – a new job, many new recipes being developed and tested for our upcoming new book (watch for it in the coming year as well as a rebirth of our present blog format),  a new roof being installed on our house, and sadly, the loss of our beloved cat Bhakti on September 4th. We posted about him earlier in the year, telling you about his struggle with lymphoma. What a challenging journey – so many ups and downs. He fought so hard to live, but in the end his body was too weak to sustain the life he desired. We’ll always treasure the gift of this beautiful and special soul’s presence in our lives. A peaceful spirit, filled with pure love and joy. Just thinking about him brings a smile to my face and fills my heart with joy.

I suppose this offers a nice transition to today’s post and our gift to you, our readers, for the holidays. A delicious chocolate recipe,  our “Delectable Goji Berry Chocolate Bark,” which is incredibly easy to make, as well as directions on how to make your own “Rudolph” gift bags.

To make the gift bags, you will need the following items, some of which may already be in your “arts and crafts” drawer:

  • brown paper lunch bags
  • small bells
  • red ribbon
  • glue stick
  • wiggly eyes (you can also draw then on the paper)
  • small red pom-poms (you could paint a red dot, or use a red sticker – be creative)
  • small cellophane treat bags
  • dark brown construction paper for the antlers
  • light tan paper for the ears

Most, if not all, of these items can be found in any crafts store.

Last Minute Christmas Gift, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

  1. Make a template for the antlers, trace it on the dark brown construction paper and cut out. If you make this with small children, you can  help them trace the outline of their hands on the construction paper. Cut out this design and voila ‘antlers.’ Many years ago we created some fun Thanksgiving and Christmas projects, using this idea. It is a great way to get little kids involved in their own gift giving projects.  Repeat the above steps over and over until you have the desired number of antlers. You need two per bag.
  2. Draw the shape of the ears, trace on the light tan paper (you can use the paper from an extra brown lunch bag), cut out and repeat, until you have enough to complete the number of bags you need.Last Minute Christmas Gift, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved
  3. Fold the top of the lunch bag over (roughly between 2 and 2-1/2 inches). Now punch two holes through the folded part (about 1/2 inch below the top fold). The holes should be at least 3/4 – 1 inch apart.
  4. Using the glue stick, attach the antlers on either side of the folded portion of the bag. Glue the ears over the beginning part of the antlers. Using a pencil, or marker, draw an inner outline for the ear (see  examples in the photos).
  5. Glue the wiggly eyes about 1 inch below the folded part of the bag. You could also draw the eyes on the bag. There is no need to run out and make a special purchase, especially facing all the craziness in the shopping malls and the ensuing traffic everywhere.
  6. Attach the red nose about 1-1/2 inches below the eyes.
  7. Draw a line (see photo) from each corner of the nose up to the outer corner of the fold of the bag.
  8. Fill each bag with the chocolate filled bag.
  9. String a bell on each red ribbon, thread through the two holes (start from the front of the bag – bell needs to face the front) and tie a bow.

For the “Delectable Goji Berry Chocolate Bark” you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 bars of at least 72% Dark Chocolate, each weighing 3.5 oz (100g)
  • 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil/butter
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut sugar, or sucanat
  • 4-5 Tbsp. goji berries, or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews (optional)
  • Himalaya salt, or celtic sea salt
  • 2 large cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper

Last Minute Christmas Gift, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In a double boiler, over low heat, melt the chocolate together with the coconut oil/butter and coconut sugar. Stir constantly, until all ingredients are liquid and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate mixture on the parchment paper lined cookie sheets, dividing it up evenly. Spread it out evenly to about 1/8 inch thickness. Top the chocolate with the goji berries, seeds and nuts and sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Place the cookie sheets into the freezer for about 45 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator to keep the chocolate firm until you are  ready to place it into the cellophane gift bags. Ease the chocolate away from the parchment paper and cut into strips, then breaking each strip into  smaller pieces. Fill each bag with the desired amount and close. Place this bag inside the “Rudolph” bag, and close it with the red ribbon.

Last Minute Christmas Gift, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

From our home to yours, wishing you a most joyous holiday! Enjoy this time with your family and friends. Remember it is not about the presents, but about how to be present.

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TWD: Eastern Mediterranean Pizza, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

We actually made this recipe for the first time a couple of weeks ago, but it was late in the day and we lacked the necessary natural light to photograph it. This recipe intrigued us, since pita bread is not easily converted to gluten free, and admittedly, we have yet to make just pita bread using this recipe. Before singling out the pita bread, we wanted to just explore this dough for the pizza itself, and if it turned out  to be successful, develop it further for really good gluten free pita bread in the future. The contributing bakers  on the original recipe were Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid and you can watch the Baking with Julia PBS segment here.  Please do check out the contributions by all the other doriestas at TWD’s link here. Sadly, we are currently without a host for this recipe, but you can find the original recipe in Baking with Julia, page 156.

The recipe turned out to be quite straight forward and simple to prepare, even after allowing for our gluten free adaptations.  You do, however, have to allow for enough time to prepare the necessary sponge.  For the gluten free pita bread dough, you will need the following ingredients. Please note, we only made half a recipe, which makes approximately six small pizzas, or four medium-sized ones. The entire recipe is not only gluten free, but vegan, since with our adaptations it does not contain any meat, dairy, or eggs.

Pita Bread Dough:

  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups tepid water (80°F-90°F)
  • 1-1/4 cups gluten free whole grain flour blend, consisting of:  1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 brown rice flour, 1/4 sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Himalaya salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/4 – 1-3/4 cups all purpose gluten free flour blend, consisting of: 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 sweet rice flour (if you need additional flour, add sweet rice flour by the tablespoon, as needed)

In a large bowl, prepare a sponge, by adding the yeast to the tepid water. Using a wooden spoon, stirring in one direction only, slowly add the gluten free whole grain flour blend, then stir 100 times in the same direction until fully mixed. This is not as bad as it sounds. You can sing your favorite song, or recite your favorite poem while counting. When you are done, the mixture should look smooth and silky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least one hour, or until doubled in size. Our sponge took two hours to double in size.

TWD: Eastern Mediterranean Pizza, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

While the sponge is developing, you can prepare the topping ahead of time.

Topping:

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (we substituted a finely chopped red onion and several finely chopped green onions)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 lb. finely ground lean lamb (we did not use meat in our version, but added additional tomatoes instead)
  • 8 – 10 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped (or use well drained canned tomatoes)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. Himalaya salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a heavy sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Then add the garlic, tomatoes and spices and cook over medium to low heat. You want to retain enough moisture. Then turn off  the heat and set aside. Please note, the topping can be made several hours ahead of time.

Now continue with preparing the pita bread dough, by removing the plastic wrap from the sponge. Sprinkle the salt and drizzle the olive oil on top  and again stir in the same direction. Now add the gluten free all purpose flour blend, one half cup at a time, until well incorporated. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface, gently working in the remaining flour. The original recipe calls for a heavy duty kneading session of about 8-10 minutes. Please refrain from doing that, your gluten free dough will never recover from that kind of abuse.

Depending on the number of pizzas you wish to make, oil two large baking sheets and divide the dough into either four or six pieces. Gently roll out each piece on a lightly floured (with sweet rice) work surface and place each piece immediately onto the oiled cookie sheets. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out, and allow to rise until doubled in height. In a warm kitchen, this process does not take very long, maybe 30 minutes. Divide the topping evenly amongst the pizzas and bake in a preheated 450°F oven, for about 7 – 10 minutes (our pizzas required 10 minutes).

TWD: Eastern Mediterranean Pizza, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved.

This recipe was a huge hit in our house, winning compliments from everyone. Definitely one we will be making again.

 

Johnny Cake Cobbler, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

After a brief break from baking in general, we are back once again on a Tuesday, baking along with our fellow doriestas. This week we were given two options, either a Fig Crostata, or Johnny Cake Cobbler. The selection was easy, since we had just purchased the most amazing, locally grown fresh peaches at Whole Foods. The recipe actually calls for sliced nectarines and purple plums, but peaches are in season and were an easy substitution.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with our TWD baking experiments, there is usually a weekly host who supplies the actual recipe from  the book Baking with Julia. Lacking a host for this week’s recipe, we will break with tradition and supply our own gluten free version. If you are looking for the original recipe, please check out page 389 in “Baking with Julia” and/or visit the TWD website here.

Johhny Cake Cobbler, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved.

First of all, like most cobblers, this is very easy to make.  For any novice gluten free baker, this is a recipe you cannot fail at.  Provided you have the ingredients on hand, which is easy this time of year, with all the abundance of fresh fruit, you can have this dessert on the table from start to finish in under one hour. We chose peaches, but any choice of fruit would lend itself beautifully for this dessert.

To fill a 9 x 9 inch casserole dish you will need the following ingredients:

Fruit filling:

  • 6 peaches, sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, or coconut oil

Melt the butter, or coconut oil (if you need to be dairy free), in a large pot over medium heat. Add the peaches, minced ginger and coconut sugar. Mix well and cook over low heat, until the peaches are just beginning to get soft. Fill into the lightly greased casserole dish and set aside, while you prepare the topping, for which you will need the following ingredients.

Topping:

  • 1-1/2 cups of gluten free flour, consisting of 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour and 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Himalaya salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 stick (2 oz.) of butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup lactose-free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup almond-coconut milk blend

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Please note that we took some liberties with the original recipe.  We reduced the amount of flour by 1/2 cup and substituted lactose-free sour cream (Green Valley Organics, available at Whole Foods and your local health food store) as well as added the almond-coconut milk (Califia Farms) to help thin out the batter.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add the butter, mixing well until coarse crumbs form. Then add the sour cream and coconut-almond milk. You are looking to create a light pillowy dough/batter that easily drops by the spoonful on top of the prepared fruit. Spoon the batter on top of the prepared filling and bake in the preheated oven for 14-17 minutes. Your baking time may vary depending on the type of fruit used, or the elevation in which you reside. You will know the cobbler is done when the biscuit topping is golden and the fruit filling is bubbling.

Johnny Cake Cobbler, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Serve warm. It is delicious by itself but could also be served with your favorite ice cream. We absolutely loved the ease of making this tasty dessert. The flavor of the fresh peaches was absolutely phenomenal making this a favorite late summer treat.

Here, in the midst of Summer, we are finally back to regular posting. Quite honestly, we missed all of you, as well as the process of creating a post, birthing it and releasing it out into the world. But life has a way of changing everything up a bit. Our lack of frequent posts, sadly does not imply that we were on vacation – far from it.  However, we do feel the call – somewhere out there, two beach chairs are calling our names.

Back in June, our initial plan was to take a couple of weeks off  from our recipe development projects, especially the creation of so many yeast-based recipes. Between finalizing recipes for our upcoming book and our participation in the wonderful TWD group, we felt a little overwhelmed.  Considering that our personal diets don’t include an abundance of baked goods, our digestive systems demanded a break. Don’t get us wrong, we do eat some bread and other baked goods – just not every day. The recipe that follows fits much more into the way we like to eat, and is also delicious on these extremely hot Summer days.

Edible Sunshine - Fruit Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Anyway, back to the story of our Summer so far.  Just as our brief break began, our cat Bhakti was diagnosed with a highly advanced stage of  intestinal lymphoma. That was completely unexpected, devastating and sadly no hope was offered.  Conventional treatments, with their many devastating side effects, still only offer, at best, a life expectancy of just a few short months. We spent a significant amount of time researching all options available for Bhakti. The stage of cancer that he is in, apparently only allows for remedial help, i.e. pain relief, anti-inflammatories, etc. We learned that Veterinary Science does not even attempt to seek a cure, but rather hopes to alleviate the accompanying symptoms until the inevitable end arrives; in other words when the drugs fail, the body becomes too toxic, or is no longer able to metabolize the drugs. It is just curious that with all the liberal amounts of money being thrown at our so-called scientists to find a true cure for cancer, none has yet been found. Perhaps, the lucrative incomes derived from the production of pharmaceutical drugs, does not offer a true incentive?

Bhakti-Our Summer and Edible Sunshine, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

As you might imagine, this has been quite an experience.  Having rescued and adopted into our family quite a number of animals over the years, we are very familiar with the journey  of life, and the process of birth and death. These cycles are a normal part of life. But, the question begs to be asked, why as a society at large,  we have not endeavored to find a truly humane and effective treatment for cancer for both ourselves and our animal companions?

As of this moment, Bhakti is still alive, supported by holistic veterinary means (turmeric, boswellia  and homeopathy) and lots and lots of love.  He amazes all of us on a daily basis with his ever present fighting spirit and will to live. His courage is inspiring.

Amidst our work and our care of Bhakti, we were also inundated with massive storms – unheard of sand storms. Remember the wall of dust that hit Phoenix, AZ last year? We came very close to that this summer. Wow!  Then followed the hail, as a result of the cooler Northern air moving South, turning the ground white, like a fresh snowfall in Winter. The hail packed a damaging punch, we will have to restucco some walls and have the roof and skylights replaced as a result. Finally,  after our prolonged drought, the monsoon has arrived, which we are, on one hand, ecstatic about, but on the other, we now get a little nervous every time it rains, due to the damaged roof and walls. Everything is awaiting insurance settlement and ensuing repair. Living in the Southwest High Desert, truly is feast or famine, all or nothing. We went for nearly eight months without a drop of moisture before the monsoon came. On the upside, it is finally greening up all around us,  like a belated Spring in the midst of Summer.

 Edible Sunshine - Fruit Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

The excessive heat leading up to our present monsoon has inspired today’s recipe. The mere thought of turning on the stove when it is in the mid to upper 90s everyday is unappealing. Our morning ritual has now become a green energy soup or a green smoothie, but with the abundance of fruit available, a savory fruit soup offers another delicious and easy to make alternative for lunch. You will need a blender (does not have to be a high end one – we used a Ninja) and the following ingredients:

Edible Sunshine - Fruit Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved.

This recipe makes two large servings:

  • 1 organic avocado, seeded and chopped
  • 2 peeled and diced mangoes
  • 2 peeled and segmented organic oranges, or 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 whole organic cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 handfuls organic cherry tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lime, peeled and segmented
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. organic olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Himalaya salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Reserve  a small amount of avocado, cucumber, mango, tomato and cilantro for garnish. Blend all the remaining ingredients until smooth. Serve in two large soup bowls and garnish with the reserved ingredients.

This soup offers a surprising and delicious harmony of flavors and might just become something you want to make again and again.

Edible Sunshine - Fruit Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Savory Brioche Pockets, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

As promised last week, here is our gluten free version of the savory brioche pockets. They were easier to make than originally thought, but required an additional 10 tablespoons of flour to achieve the right consistency described in the book. Our trusted old stand mixer ended its life during the creation of our last cook book, and we have not been able to replace it since, holding out hope for a pro KitchenAid. But it turns out, with a little effort, one can make this recipe using an ordinary hand mixer. Maybe we can credit the blend of gluten free flours for allowing this, a heavier wheat dough might not cut it. In all fairness, we did not have to run the mixer for the 15 plus minutes suggested in the book. We managed to achieve the desired results in about 10 minutes, with the mixer running warm, but still alive.

Using our blend of gluten free flour, consisting of brown rice flour, potato starch, teff flour, sweet rice flour and tapioca flour, we created the sponge as called for in the recipe, but added one cup of warm water. Gluten free flours can go one of two ways, either too dry or too wet, the latter being the most common problem. However, this sponge was different, 1/3 cup of milk just didn’t do it justice. With the extra liquid the sponge developed beautifully, after rising for 40 minutes. Outside of the obvious changes, i.e. gluten free, we pretty much followed the steps outlined in the recipe for the dough,  using the same flour blend mentioned earlier, with the addition of 1 teaspoon of psyllium seed along with 10 tablespoons of extra flour. The dough was fairly light in consistency, rose beautifully, more than doubling in size within 2-1/2 hours, but we feared it would not survive any length of time in the refrigerator, so we left that step out completely.

While the dough was still rising, we prepared the filling using potatoes, small portabella mushrooms, chopped green onions, finely chopped basil leaves, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and a small onion, finely chopped and caramelized.

Savory Brioche Pockets, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

To our great surprise, the dough was easy to work with, and allowed for easy shaping into pockets. For those of you familiar with gluten free baking, you’ll know what we mean, that a lot of these kind of doughs tend to “crack” or break with a lot of handling. Yet, amazingly, this dough was up to the challenge. We brushed the finished brioche pockets with an egg wash and baked them for about 27 minutes.

Since we finished making this during the late afternoon, the pockets became a quick and very delicious dinner. We absolutely loved them. The filling is amazing and perfectly compliments the flavor of the dough. As an alternative, this dough would also lend itself for making great pasties. We’ll definitely be making this recipe again, experimenting with a variety of fillings.

Savory Brioche Pockets, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

If you would like to get the original recipe, please check out Carrie’s beautiful site Loaves and Stitches, as well as all the creative contributions from the other Doristas.

Fresh Pear Upside-down Cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

The original recipe for this week actually called for upside-down baby cakes made with rhubarb. Since we had neither baby cake pans nor rhubarb, we decided to change things up a bit.  Upside-down cakes are extremely versatile, allowing for easy substitutions, and are among our favorite cakes for this very reason. The other issue we ran into, looking at the original recipe, was the fact that it called for bourbon, not something we are particularly fond of. However, we could see ourselves using some sweet white wine for poaching some pears. Good thing our local store happened to carry some delicious fresh Bosc pears.

Bosc pears, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

Sadly, our own pear tree will not bear any fruit this year, since some unexpected late storms packing high winds, followed by frost, pretty much destroyed all the newly emerged blossoms overnight. Growing fruit at high altitude has its challenges. Hopefully, some other local growers faired better than we did, perhaps offering some of their crops at the farmers’ markets later on this summer.

Getting back to the recipe, other than the substitution of pears poached in white wine, we converted the recipe to gluten free, using a combination of chestnut flour, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour and tapioca flour. An interesting addition that we also included in this recipe, in place of the typical gums and binder, was psyllium seed powder (1-1/2 tsp. dissolved in 2 Tbsp. of warm water). Why psyllium seeds you might ask? Well, we have been using rice bran as a thickening agent in the past (works really well in bread recipes and muffins but has mixed results in delicate desserts and cakes). Psyllium seed powder  has a funny name and is surely known to many you as the agent that keeps you “regular.”  You know what we are talking about. However, don’t knock it, it works very well as a binding agent in gluten free baking. For the caramel, we kept the amount of sugar suggested in the recipe, but substituted equal amounts of coconut sugar and sucanat for the brown sugar. We love coconut sugar for its low glycemic index and delicious molasses-like flavor, a perfect addition to caramel. We only used half the amount of sugar called for in the batter, and replaced the granulated sugar with sucanat.

Bosc Pears, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

If you are interested in the original recipe, please check out the beautiful site of this week’s host, Erin of Pastry Brush. You can also find the recipe on page 244 in Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan. Also, do check out the many contributions by our talented fellow Doristas at TWD.

Fresh Pear Upside-down cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

As we mentioned earlier, we used a larger cake pan (9″ spring form, lined with parchment paper), set on a heavy cookie sheet, to prevent spillage. After peeling, halving and coring the pears, we poached them in about 3/4 cup of white wine (Alice White Lexia Muscato, from Southern Australia). While the pears were poaching, we prepared the caramel, as suggested, substituting the same white wine for the bourbon. We continued with the rest of the recipe, exactly as described in the book. The cake rose and baked beautifully, but needed an additional five minutes of baking time – this could be attributed to our high altitude, or our oven, which can be temperamental at times. Once baked, we let it cool for a few minutes in the pan, just loosening the outer edges with a sharp knife. The recipe suggests flipping the cake immediately on to a cooling rack. Flipping a cake takes courage and conviction – you have to believe you can do it ahead of time. The rules for baking gluten free are slightly more challenging. We knew that we could flip the cake, but were less sure whether it would survive the cooling rack, followed by another transfer to a platter. So it went straight onto a platter, fingers crossed and breath held. Success – a beautiful cake after all.

Fresh Pear Upside-down Cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved

After the cake had sufficiently cooled, we could finally enjoy the reward of sampling a slice. This cake immediately moved high on our most favorite list. The combination of flavors is outstanding. Delicate, subtle and sweet and completely satisfying. Do give this dessert a try. We loved it.

Chocolate Rice Cakes, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved.

When most of us start embracing a gluten free lifestyle, especially when it is due to health reasons, someone along the way introduces us to rice cakes because it is considered to be a safe substitution for regular bread. This person is generally well-meaning but the expression in their eyes belies their actions – they are really thinking “You poor thing – that is all you are going to eat from now on. Sure glad it isn’t me?!?” Most of us have experienced this scenario at one point or another. I think most of us have mixed feelings about rice cakes. It is definitely a safe option, but perhaps not the most enticing when it comes to flavor. This post is not intended to unfairly criticize rice cakes – far from it. We always have some on hand, just in case. Our favorite brand, hands down, is Lundberg, which offers organic brown rice cakes, which are also non-GMO. Lundberg, actually offers quite a few varieties to choose from – anything from white, brown and wild rice , and with or without salt.  Some people, especially those with celiac disease,  initially have such damaged digestive tracts, that their food choices may appear very limited. Rice cakes are usually a helpful substitution, especially in the beginning stages of healing from celiac disease. But once gluten, in all of its forms, has been strictly eliminated for some time, and the diet has been enriched by consuming primarily whole foods, ideally from organic and non-GMO sources, one feels better and wants to venture out into the greater world of gluten free options. That can be a shock in and by itself. Thankfully, today there are many more options available, but not all are necessarily healthy for you. It seems that every couple of months, there are new offerings in prepared gluten free baked goods. We quite applaud the larger availability of gluten free options, but one still needs to be discerning when it comes to the ingredients that are being used. If you are faced with a choice between an overly refined, starch laden gluten free bread and a whole grain brown rice cake, I would choose the rice cake every time from a nutritional standpoint. And since not everyone is inclined to bake their own bread, cookies or cakes – it is helpful to have some commercial choices to choose from.

Rice cakes due to their neutral flavor, lend themselves to the creation of an easy to make dessert as well.  It doesn’t involve any lengthy preparations, or baking, just a short time for preparing and melting the chocolate and a few more minutes of waiting time to let the chocolate set in the  freezer, or conversely one hour in the refrigerator. It is loved by everyone in our home and very easy to make. You just need a packet of rice cakes and few extra ingredients for toppings.

Chocolate Rice Cakes, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Ingredients

6 – 8 Lundberg organic brown rice cakes

6 oz. dark chocolate chips

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

2 tsp. camu camu (or your favorite Vitamin C powder)

2 tsp. maca (optional)

1 tsp. peppermint oil

Organic Raisins (a few per cake)

6-8 Tbsp. of peanut butter or almond butter (1 per rice cake)

A few tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut

Fresh berries for garnish.

Chocolate Rice Cakes, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate chips with the coconut oil, stirring constantly, over low heat. Add the camu camu, or Vitamin C powder, and maca (optional). Let cool a little bit and then add the peppermint oil, blending everything well. Set aside. On a tray, lay out the number of rice cakes you wish to use and spread one tablespoon of nut butter on each one. Make sure that the nut butter is at room temperature, because it makes it that much easier to spread on the more delicate rice cakes. Unfortunately, rice cakes tend to break easily. I am sure you have your own stories to tell ;-) Top each one with a few raisins and then spread the prepared chocolate sauce  evenly on the rice cakes, covering the nut butter spread completely. Sprinkle some shredded coconut over the chocolate and place the finished rice cakes in the freezer for a few minutes to let the chocolate set. If you have more time on your hands, you can also refrigerate them for an hour.

Serve alongside some fresh berries for an easy dessert, or snack. We love this dessert for its simplicity, the endless possibilities for creative substitutions, i.e. fresh banana slices, or any other fruit, for that matter, other dried fruits, carob instead of chocolate, or, perhaps you could hide some dreaded vitamins, or other supplement in the chocolate sauce – just kidding!!! ;-)

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