I’ve grouched a lot lately, in person and on media, about not eating. Of course, I’m not starving. And I’m not at risk of anaphylaxis if I goof up and eat something I shouldn’t. In fact, I’m amazingly fortunate in that I can whip up dinner for everyone while I’m working from home with a lovely variety of fresh foods available every day.
I guess what I’m really grouching about is the loss of so many recipes we’d built over a decade and the relative normalcy that they brought us. Now I’m asea in the kitchen again, with recipe gains in bits and spurts… And a distinct lack of fun, for now.
But dinners and lunches still have to happen and that’s still on me. In the spirit of just getting things done then, here are five 5-minute (seriously) meals to feed your family on your busiest days. All are free from the traditional top 8, most are free from seeds and soy, and some are completely vegan /meat free.
Masarepa (right) is precooked corn flour. Sort of like premade dried pasta.
My deli wraps (left) come with a side of upside-down Eeyore and pepperjack.
Truly, lunch on the go at its most basic. Inspired in part by the bologna-ketchup rolls of my youth (don’t judge). Layer one piece of deli-style meat (kudos if you made it at home), one piece of cheese/cheese-type product, one pile of greens (I’m a fan of spinach leaves here). Repeat for thicker or neater wraps (I add another piece of meat on top for the protein and to rein in the leaves). Roll as if it had a tortilla around it. Slice it, or just start eating. Bonus points if you actually rolled this out on a board or plate, too.
Arepas to slice and stuff or scoop
Not a bun, not a tortilla. Technically requiring a specific (but very low cost!) ingredient. Mix 1 cup masarepa flour (order it here, for example) with 1 cup water. Let it sit while you turn on the broiler or toaster oven. Pull off chunks of the thickened dough, roll into balls, smoosh flat. Bake as many as you want to make under the broiler for a few minutes on both sides. If you have more than 5 minutes, go ahead and turn off the broiler and keep the patties in the oven with the door closed to make sure the insides get fully cooked and sliceable. Possibilities here are endless: slice and toast and slather; pile salsa or leftovers on top and use it like a taco shell (or slice it genteelly, if you prefer); just walk away from the kitchen with it in your hand on the go.
Quickest tomato broth gravy
I love days when the house smells like long-simmering tomato gravy. It takes me right back to happy childhood memories. Sometimes that just won’t happen, but the meal I can pull off for everyone still requires some kind of sauce. This is my latest answer. Mix 1 can/box/whatever of tomatoes with a really good splash or two of vegetable broth (maybe 1/2 cup? hard to say….). Add a spoonful (really, a dinner-size spoonful, so maybe a Tablespoon) of cornstarch (or tapioca or arrowroot if you can’t use corn). Whisk is together in a pan over medium-high heat until it gets bubbling. Simmer it for as many minutes as you have available. Add whatever flavors you like (we vary between traditional Italian and a Tex-Mex version). Toss the cooked meat or beans or other protein in if it’s available. Toss in veggies if you want. Really, just throw anything you want to have flavored into the pot, then eat it. Maybe pour it over the arepas if you’ve really got your timing down!
Stir-fried veggies mix
This one is a much less sarcastic approach to fast homecooked meals. We’ve been enjoying our Washington Green Grocer deliveries so much. It’s a small source of joy in another otherwise-crazy food year. All of the fresh veggies means that we rarely rely on frozen steamed options, which are healthy and easy, but sometimes not as flavorful. If you have fresh veggies, greens, and roots on hand, try this quick stir-fry. Add some protein and you have yourself a (possibly vegan) meal. Coarsely chop (in the interest of time, go ahead, tear it instead if you have to) greens---we like baby bok choy, green onions, leeks, Also some carrots, maybe celery if we have it. I’ve shaved in turnips, tossed in teeny dices of eggplant (so the kids won’t notice). Anything goes. My favorite seasoning right now is a mix of Green Goddess, ginger, orange peel, and basil at the end. But chili powder and cumin with a bit of cocoa and paprika would be nice, too, perhaps. Gotta try a lot of flavors to make the same food every day taste different, right?
One-bowl salmon saute
An indulgent but easy lunch/dinner meal that I miss a lot is chicken salad made from leftover rotisserie shreds. Mix in a little mustard, mayo (if you can), dill, thyme, etc, and you have a *great* sandwich started. I never understood tuna salad, frankly, when you could have this instead. Now that I’ve found pouch salmon, though (check the no-metal box and the healthy-fats box), I’m gradually missing my chicken salad a bit less. Because the pouch salmon is already cooked, you really don’t even have to do this in a saute pan, if you’re that short on time. I like to mix in a small skillet some olive oil, the salmon, something crunchy like onions or celery, some carrots and/or peppers, and maybe a few dark greens to wilt. Sometimes I just toss in leftover veggies from stir fry night, actually. Mix it all together to warm, and add in whatever seasonings you like. Since this can’t be a sandwich in my world, but I often require something crunchy to make a meal worthwhile, I like to crush rice crackers or even rice cereal into the salmon mixture. You can eat it with a spoon as is, or you can add it to something else that’s safe for you, like leftover rice, or corn pasta, or a gluten-free tortilla. Either way, it checks off the protein/carb/veggie boxes for at least one meal. And it’s pretty tasty.
And a bonus (like a baker's dozen, but not-quite-halved):
Rice paper rolls
This is my youngest daughter’s new favorite recipe. She’s become my sous chef of sorts, which I love. We saw a Craftsy video that showed viewers how to roll lettuce and stuffing into round rice paper. Egg rolls without the egg?! Spring rolls without the wheat?! I’m in. I ordered these papers, which are unbelievably affordable, and which store well. With some of the WGG Bibb lettuce, some leftover salmon one day and pork another, and a bunch of veggies on hand, we got started. I used my tea kettle to heat water, poured the water into a bowl, and ran the rice paper through the water until it was pliable and see through. On a dinner-sized plate, we layered the rice paper, some lettuce leaves, and a pile of veggies and meat/fish in the middle of it all. Then we rolled, tucked, and rolled some more. Remarkably easy. And delicious. And surprisingly filling. We ate them at room temp one day dipped in a vinaigrette, after refrigeration another day dipped in BBQ sauce. New favorite, indeed. They’re packable, portable, not too messy, all around great. And if you have leftovers in your fridge, they only take as long as it takes you to boil water and spoon in the filling. Enjoy! 😊
Sounds appealing, doesn't it? 😊
I'm actually not making snacky recipes for a Superbowl event. I don’t really do football---too much of it in my youth, for one, and no good music involved, for another. But I love to feed people, especially crowds, and Superbowl weekend is when people gather to eat non-holiday foods. I made these last month instead, for post-holiday visits and such. But you feel free to use them for football-y things all you want. I don't need to know!
I’ve been experimenting (sometimes out of desperation) with dinner and snack ideas that don’t include wheat, yeast, poultry, many legumes, and the usual host of food allergens in our house. One thing I’ve wanted to make for a long time is a vegan spinach artichoke dip. To make my gluten-free crackers more palatable, I finally dove into this goal.
I started off with this recipe from Forks Over Knives. We get a lot of soy already in our house, so a recipe that doesn’t use tofu is a winner for me.
Reviewers suggested that this was somewhat bland, more of a jumping off recipe. I took one suggestion in particular: to use pureed cannellini beans. This safe-for-us option added the creaminess (and some hidden protein for the bean averse) that I love. I didn’t even bother to use a blender, just my well-loved potato (really, applesauce and berry jam) hand masher.
I also used artichokes from a glass jar (nickel allergy!); spinach that I’d pre-frozen, partially thawed, and chopped; and a combination of water and chickpea+sweet rice flours to thicken and flavor instead of a plant milk (no one in my house agrees on a favorite).
And, of course, I went my own way with seasonings: In addition to the traditional and garlic and pepper, I threw in Green Goddess spices and hot sauce.
The result was scoop-able and tasty warm or cold, lasted for days in the fridge, and didn’t make me miss gooey cheese—too much.
Check it out:
BONUS: Free-From Veggie Dinnertime Nachos
After a late (that’s 8:30 pm, by the way) night out with the girls, I realized that I had no dinner options---they had chicken dumplings---and nothing defrosted or ready-made. But I did have corn tortillas and lots of fresh veggies, so…nachos!
Because I was making and eating these while the kids were already upstairs and asleep, I added all of my favorite cheeses. If you’re dairy free and have a favorite vegan cheese, go ahead with that. We aren’t in love with the typical vegan cheese options, but I’ve recently come across Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, which John’s of 12th Street in NYC uses. If it can stand up to an old Italian family, it’s worth a shot for mine, too! I’ll be sure to update the post if I succeed in making kid-safe nachos one day.
Until then, here’s a Superbowl-ready recipe for nachos made with your own baked tortilla chips. Perhaps as healthy as a nacho can get?
For starter ideas, I used the Paula Deen Macho Nachos recipe, which gave me ideas about warming the nachos and alternating crunchy and wet layers, and a great article (even if you aren't geeky about food) about nachos from The Guardian.
I had some personal inspiration, too: A well-loved, favorite indulgence with my mom on evenings during my middle- and high-school years was a bag of tortilla chips spread out, covered with shredded mozzarella, and nuked until the cheese became stretchy and delicious.
For my version, I planned to bake my chips as usual, on parchment at 350 degrees F. I use any type of corn tortilla rounds, quarter them, line them slightly overlapping, and lightly spray them with oil before baking. I put a tiny bit of salt on at this stage, only, too.
To top them, I used just what I had on hand, putting together ideas to cover dinner nutrition as best as I could: crumbled beets, dried bell peppers, diced onions, chopped romas, quartered artichokes, and torn up fresh spinach.
After the chips were just lightly brown (not as much as if I weren't topping them), I added a bit of cheese [pick your vegan replacement here as desired], liberally poured on Arizona Dreaming spices from Penzys, and started layering, big to small: artichokes, romas, onions, crumbly items. Then I topped it all with...more cheese. :)
Last, I returned this tray to the oven just long enough to melt the cheese but not brown it (something like 5 minutes or so). Try it and enjoy!
My family and I made it through a fun but overly hectic December---multiple orchestra performances and solo recitals, amazing school projects and group music jams, and mostly positive kitchen experiences. We followed that up with a really lovely holiday break: multiple museums, plenty of time at the House of Musical Traditions "petting" instruments I could blow my budget on in a day, and lots of fun movies and games with my two double-digit--aged kids. I couldn't have asked for much more!
What I didn't do was spend any planning time on work or fun-blogging. :-) So I'm starting the new year out with a pretty traditional approach: putting my resolutions in writing:
Continue swimming, lifting, and rowing
In 2017, I joined the IronHeart Foundation Triple Crown Challenge to extend my exercise and health routine beyond completion of cardiac rehab. I met the goals of 100 days, 100 hours, and 100 miles of exercise. I loved the motivation, the flexibility, and the cost (free!).
In 2018, I plan to continue that motivation on my own time with the Achievement app. It's a program that connects to other apps and rewards you with points when you meet health goals. Eventually, you cash in the points. My biggest hurdle here will be that I'm too low tech to get started: I don't have any devices (or their apps), like FitBit, to connect yet! My cardiologist will be thrilled if I meet this goal, though, because he's been asking me for years to upgrade from my analog-like pedometer. :-)
Continue rosary walks
Even before heart surgery, I was a huge proponent of walking as one of the best cardio exercises. It's free, easier on joints than running, accessible to all ages and ranges of health, and can be done anywhere---even in place. During cardiac rehab, I walked daily; after recovery, I was thrilled with the places I could go! Hills? No problem! Bags of groceries or books? Didn't even slow me down.
My challenge? Walking, by itself, is just a tad too boring. I don't 100% enjoy walking and talking, and, ideally, I like to have a destination. To keep my walks going after rehab, I combined them with my daily rosary. Calming, productive, peaceful, quick enough to fit into any day.
In 2018, I want to continue these walks. They clear my head, and they get me out of the house on busy work-from-home days that blow by. The rosary walks are nice, but short. My goal is to extend them by adding in a podcast or two afterward. I've never managed to get into podcasts, though I'd like to and have a long list of ones to try. Popping in ear buds and walking to the library seems like a great way to keep me walking this year.
Organize a blog and media calendar
Right. This one will be a challenge, not because I can't plan but because I LOVE to plan, to the exclusion of implementing the plan.
In 2017, I learned more than I could imagine about online media: scheduling blog posts, calculating nutritional content, tweeting and replying to tweets, posting to facebook in different locations, adjusting photo sizes and uploading in different places, sharing and labeling pins, joining link-ups (who knew?!), designing my own infographics and PDFs, and so much more. I also learned something surprising: I truly enjoy this online community! The steep learning curve (especially for a devoted Luddite like me) to interact online was more worthwhile than I could have imagined. I am continually inspired and impressed by others' kindness, creativity, openness, and generosity. It's been an unexpected blessing to connect with people around the world, to learn from them and to share experiences.
In 2018, I want to get away from my haphazard approach to these interactions. Right now, I fit them in around work and family schedules. Although this blog isn't a part of my business, per se, it is an important part of my week, and devoting time to it just makes sense. In particular, I'd love---at a minimum---to coordinate scheduled, prewritten blog posts with tweets and other shares, to figure out Tailwind for pinning, to set aside dedicated time to write thoughtful yet focused posts, and to have a real editorial calendar.
I may have set my aspirations too high. This list doesn't even include my fun goals, like learning a new instrument, or at least playing the one I do know (piano) every week. Oh, and the knitting goals...don't get me started. It wouldn't be a January without outsized resolutions and optimism, though, right?
And it wouldn't be a good food blog if I didn't add some sort of recipe! This one has been tested a few times already and went up just before the Christmas holiday on Bloglovin' and Freedible. The chocolate peppermint bread is free from wheat, dairy (milk and milk products), eggs, peanut, tree nuts, seeds, soy, and preservatives. If you are celiac, this is gluten free, too (it's not necessarily 100% gluten free from my kitchen, though; we're still using rye flour in shared bowls and pans...for now).
Check out the downloadable version, also indexed here on the blog:
Linked to my first FreeFromFridays of 2018
If you've followed the blog in 2017, you might notice that this recipe and its download file are derived from my holiday strawberry bread. The new recipe incorporates some gluten-free truths I learned so far, either from others or the hard way (sadly trashing first try recipes), including use of lower cooking times, different amounts of liquid, and measurement by weight instead of by cup scoops.
The strawberry bread has the same free-from ingredients (except wheat). If you aren't wheat free, I suggest giving that recipe a try first. It's moist and yummy with any type of fruit or veggie!
Ah, another Friday and I have yet to finish the blog post I started on Monday night. 2018, that’s going to be my year of planning ahead, I hope! I’m aiming in 2018, and really now too, for the mantra “get it done, not perfect” ---with encouragement from the Mamapreneurrevolution
Instead of that nutrition post (still in the draft folder), which really just isn’t done, I’m going for a get-it-done post today.
Last night, I needed to use up a lot of random foods for dinner, and I had to make it in just a few minutes if possible, without a lot of prep time. As my kids get older, my husband and I find ourselves all over town with them in different directions---a somewhat new occurrence for us. I needed a dinner to lay out ahead of time that I could toss together when we all got home, hungry and ready to eat right away.
And, instead of planning that dinner, I spent the morning looking at carrot cake recipes.
Let me explain: I don’t actually like carrot cake. Or at least I don’t think I do.
I have a dear friend in Florida who adores it, though, and a neighbor friend who makes the most amazing cake I’ve ever seen…and it’s carrot. I trust these two an awful lot. And I found pre-shredded carrots at Trader Joe’s. And I found a gluten-free carrot cake bread-loaf recipe at ElaVegan, and I’m pretty desperate right now for a good slice of quick bread for autumn mid-mornings.
Naturally, I started searching for more examples of carrot loaf cakes, because the one I found looked amazing but wasn’t quite what I was going for. Then I started brainstorming about what I might do with the recipe. And I realized that I’ve almost never explained how or why I remake recipes---trying to balance the art and science of cooking and baking without any professional kitchen experience whatsoever (like most of you, I hope!). Thus, this post was born.
Most of my "recipes" these days are made up on the go as we tease out the true allergies in the house. So, today, you get a walk-through of how I start to build a recipe-creating/converting grid AND a recipe-free method for the quickest allergy-safe dinners ever. Maybe I’ll get to that nutrition post by 2018….
Converting and Creating Allergy-Safe Recipes
If you’re like me, you have a ton of recipes from your past that you adore and can’t make as is anymore because of food restrictions. That’s a natural place to start converting ingredients to safe ones, of course.
Also, though, I tend to find recipes on favorite food blogs/sites or even on allergy-friendly sites that just don’t quite fit our needs. Maybe they’re dairy-free but not egg-free, or they’re wheat-free but not dairy-free. You get the idea.
When that happens, I grab the recipe that inspired me, search for a few more examples that might replace other allergens, and line them all up in a table with the same/similar ingredients on the same rows. Like so:
Then I aim for my own version, which uses the ingredients I know are safe and work for us, and which usually relies on ingredients I already have on hand.
For example, if it’s a fruit or veggie product, I might use juice instead of milk. If the original has nuts, I might replace them with dried fruit or just leave them out. If peanut butter is key, this recipe might not be for me! But it can still work in some cases with another thick spread or oil, if I’m lucky. If the recipe has 1-2 eggs, I’ll use one of my favorite egg mixes (applesauce, starch, and water), might increase the oil or fruit/veggie content a bit, and might add some extra leavener (baking soda) if it’s a baked good that should dome.
If my final version is quite similar to one of the originals, then it’s ALWAYS called an adapted recipe if/when it goes on my blog or in a book. If the final differs pretty substantially (a qualitative statement, I know), it’s simply inspired by, or maybe acknowledged in another way.
A lot of my recipes come out of my family archives, but I get more and more inspiration from friends and families lately, too!
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned during my baking grid experiments so far:
1) If the recipe calls for coconut oil, or is a no-bake recipe, you really can’t replace the coconut oil with a liquid oil. Semi-solid oils are crucial for holding together batters after they cool. You can try to lower the amount of coconut oil, though, for heart healthy purposes.
2) Recipes with 3 or more eggs are really tough to convert to egg-free versions. Sometimes it’s worth cutting the original in half and making smaller batches at a time instead.
3) Recipes without the fatty mouth feel of dairy and eggs really need some extra kick sometimes, even if you get that texture from oils or fruit sauces/butters. We have “accidentally” used double the amount of cinnamon, vanilla, and many other herbs with a lot of success.
4) Too much baking powder gives you bitter cookies. Baking soda and powder are both important. Don’t use just one if the recipe calls for both! If I’m replacing eggs in a recipe that calls for just one, I try to use the other option for a better balance. Don’t forget the extra lemon juice or vinegar if you add soda to a recipe, though, because the acid isn’t built into that leavener.
Since I “wasted” much of my morning browsing around carrot cake ideas, I really had to stretch to pull off our Recipe-Free Dinner. You know what’s funny, though? Everyone thought it was delicious (even the kid who won’t eat food that touches each other, usually).
This dinner was made in one pan and was served in individual bowls right from the pan. I measured just about nothing and went for the Rachael Ray eyeball-it method. Minimal cleanup necessary.
Hectic Day Dinner
Pick a sautéing oil (we love olive oil, always on hand)
Pick a veggie (we used pre-frozen sliced peppers, defrosted, but fresh will work well here of course)
Pick a protein (we used 1 pound of stir fry beef, defrosted, but beans or fish or another meat will do)
Pick a sauce or liquid vehicle (we used a leftover half-empty jar artichoke red pepper dip because I needed to get rid of it. To thicken it all up, I added a dusting of cornstarch, too)
Pick some seasonings (we used a huge scoop of minced garlic, unmeasured, and a ton of shakes of a Bavarian spice mix from Penzy’s)
Pick a healthy (low GI) carb (we used thin sliced farm red potatoes from our WGG delivery that morning)
Pick a leafy green (we used romaine on the side but a collard/kale green shredded into the bowl would be ideal if it’s on hand)
Warm some olive oil in a medium covered pan on the stovetop.
Add the veggies on medium high.
Add the meat, cut into small dices, and saute briefly; then cover and turn the heat to medium to steam.
Add the sauce or liquid, cornstarch, and garlic. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, then return to medium and add the seasonings.
Wash and thin slice the potatoes, then cut slices in half and add into the pan (or stir in broken up rice noodles, instant rice, couscous, or other carbs if you choose).
Cover the pan and allow the steam and liquid to cook the potato slices. When they’re soft, dinner is ready.
Ladle some of the meal into each bowl and add the greens on the side or shredded into the mix.
*You can make this an even faster dinner by using leftover cooked meat, drained beans or tofu, and vermicelli-style Asian rice noodles or tiny Italian pasta (pastine).
So, what would you use in your version?!
Next year, my goal isn't going to be just to blog each week; it's going to be to blog on the same day each week! I'll get there...maybe.
This week, I was so excited to post my successful wheat-free brownie recipe...or my first-try wheat-free chocolate chip cookies...or a discussion about glycemic load and the carbs in different wheat-free grains...and on and on.
Instead, thanks to a great read I happened upon over at The Kitchn, I decided to post an actual well-tested recipe. It's inline with a downloadable PDF again, because updating my software and templates is just so far down on my to-do list these days.
This recipe is for leftover jam cobbler. It's inspired by the Pomona's Universal Pectin recipe for any kind of jam and oatmeal bars. Their delicious recipe uses butter and flour; my adaptation turns the bars into more of a crumb pie/fruit crisp with oats, wheat-free flours, and a small amount of applesauce and oil. Extra bonus, if you make your own jams or not: you can use this recipe with any type of fruit preserves, so save the dredges of your containers and mix them all together into this yummy dessert...or breakfast...or midnight snack.
You might notice that I'm relying heavily on oats now that I'm afraid to open the APF jar in my kitchen. Are oats enough to replace wheat? Simple answer: no. Even GF oats, for my friends with celiac. First, you will get tired of them quickly! Second, I've learned fast that it's better to mix flours for texture and for nutrition.
But, oats are easy. And I'm just starting to not panic about the joy of cooking without so many old favorites. So, here's another oat-and-almond success. Enjoy!
3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/3 cup tapioca starch (any starch will do)
1/3 cup almond flour (or replace with more oat flour or chickpea flour for almond allergy)
1 cup brown sugar (you can reduce this to taste if you watch glucose levels)
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
scant 1/2 cup canola oil
scant 1/2 cup jarred, unsweetened applesauce
1 cup leftover jams (runny remainders are great for this, but thick new jams work too)
1/4 cup cornstarch (use as little as 1 Tbsp for thick jams and the cobbler will still bake up)
BOTTOM CRUST DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly grease a medium casserole dish. I use a 7 x 10 Corningware-style dish.
In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine the dry ingredients of the crust.
Make a small well in the mixture and add the vanilla, oil, and applesauce.
Use two forks to drag the liquids through the crust mixture to make a crumbly texture (similar to cutting in butter). I like to turn the forks over and pull them away from the middle of the bowl in different directions.
Use your hands or a spoon to scoop almost exactly half of the crust into the prepared dish.
Wet your fingertips and press the mixture lightly into a crust shape, from the middle toward the edges of the dish. This crust should be just thick enough to cover the bottom, not thicker.
In a separate bowl, combine the jam and cornstarch, stirring or whisking until cornstarch is evenly distributed and not lumpy. The mixture will thicken with the oven heat.
Use a spoon to spread the filling across the bottom crust, leaving about 1/8-inch edge without filling.
TOP CRUST DIRECTIONS
Wet your fingers again and drop the rest of the crust mixture onto the filling in small sprinkles or crumbles. This will not look like it's going to work! You should have enough crust mixture left to almost cover the filling, with some holes. It's most important that your edges are covered with the crumble (but the result tastes just as good if the filling leaks out!). If you have a hard time with the wet mixture, it's okay to incorporate a bit more oat flour to the top crust mixture, too. The entire recipe is very forgiving of measurement estimates (which could be why I like it so much!).
Place the dish uncovered into the oven for 20 minutes (or until the edges are dark brown, if you like crispy crusts).
Remove the dish to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes. This can be served warm with spoons, or it can be chilled and sliced later on.
I have grand plans to make or find some favorite wheat-free flour mixtures to keep on hand. I think this one will come in handy for the autumn crisps and maybe even for winter pies.
If I decide to try vanilla powder, I can mix it in with all of the crust's dry ingredients and have a ready-made crust that just needs a liquid to come together.
I'm seeing apple juice and canola with my fruit crisps, orange juice and olive oil with a sweet potato pie...so many possibilities! I wish I were organized enough to put them here as updates to the post when I try them. Maybe that will be the writing goal for 2019. :-)
What will you make with the crust? Do you have a favorite jam or other filling to try?
I’ve been eating a lot of oats lately. Not just oatmeal, either, or even just oatmeal cookies (yum). It started out that way, though: a nice bowl of hot oatmeal, graduating from instant to quick rolled to quick Irish to steel cuts. Using some in our cookies, scones, crisps. Without yeast, I was still making flatbreads and quick breads with traditional wheat flours. Without wheat now, too, though, oats have become much more important in our house.
In the past 2 months, I’ve experimented with home-ground oat flour, certified gluten-free oat flours, whole oats, toasted oats, overnight oats. You name it. I’m just diving into this wheat-free world, and I’d like to hang onto as many other grains and proteins as I can. That means I’ve also been trying rice flours, corn flours, bean flours, and more. Oats are a personal favorite, but even I can get sick of them.
For now, I hope that some examples of how we’ve played around with oats in new recipes will help others out there who might be trying to eat fewer wheat-type products, or who are looking for variety in their whole grains, or who just like oats more than for breakfast alone. Enjoy!
The (very short) making-flour learning curve:
Homemade ground flour: I tried my blender/processor instead of a coffee grinder. Not bad. Gritty, too coarse, though. Also dusty. And I have more to clean afterward. With prepacked flour widely available (and certified GF for any of my baking adventures for friends with celiac), I’m not doing this again unless I run out unexpectedly for personal baking!
Bob’s Red Mill: NOW I understand how important this company’s products are. We liked them before as a family without nuts, eggs, dairy, seeds. Without wheat, though, I’m turning to Bob’s oat flour or steel cut oats every single day. Their blog and podcast are particularly fun for bakers and cooks of any kind, custom eater or not. Plus, he and his team are just nice.
McCann's Irish oats, quick cooking: These have become our new kitchen staple. I can make my own basic oatmeal for morning customization in a jiffy, and I can tweak the recipe on the back of the box to make without any of our allergens. Win, win. I just wish the boxes were bigger.
My First Wheat-Free Recipe
It’s really not a long weekend without pancakes. My husband would say waffles. But I make the food, and pancakes are easier without eggs. Plus, I can make enough to freeze some for later, which is a nice surprise for everybody. Waffles seem to disappear in this house before the iron is cool.
Anyway, I found myself newly wheat free and facing a morning of making pancakes for my family and going without. I’m quickly prone to become a martyr in such circumstances, but I’m working hard at self care equal to what I’d do if my kids went wheat free (or at least close). They’re great at reminding me to do that, too. ?
So, Google. I came across a lot of great research about wheat replacement, and I’m still trying to gauge all of it and sort it in my brain and on paper. But I saw very early on a recipe by a chef, Dana Slatkin in 2012 for vegan almond pancakes. We can have almonds, now (mostly), and the eggs and butter were already replaced for me, so I was in.
I learned a lot about going gluten free from just this recipe. And it took a few tries to get the right texture, consistency, aftertaste, and more. Just a few tries---basically, the definition of deceptively simple. I'm still pretty sure this is my biggest wheat-free success to date, 4 months in, and it's the one I started with.
Here you go, inline for now with a pretty basic PDF to download if that's easier. It's still only the first full week of school here (read about how we missed a day of school for food allergies already), so nothing is pretty or organized or otherwise ready to go yet.
1-1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp psyllium
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1/2 Tbsp water
1-1/2 cups water (divided in half)
Preheat a griddle (check for readiness: a drop a water should sizzle).
In a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine all dry ingredients.
Make a well, and add the first four wet ingredients.
Then add 3/4 cup water and stir to mix to a batter consistency. Slowly add in the remaining 3/4 cup water to the thickness you desire.
Let the batter rest for a few minutes while you check the griddle.
Make your pancakes as you usually would with wheat versions. For us, that means starting with a thicker batter and thinning it with water as we go along to make a spreadable, but not watery, round cake (two to a pan).
Enjoy what you can, and then freeze the rest between layers of wax paper. Toast or microwave to reheat.
My next go or two:
I also decided that, just because I’m wheat free doesn’t mean we have to be chocolate free. Dessert is essential. We figured out brownies without eggs, which sounds unreal. I was sure I could figure out brownies without wheat, too.
I tried three different varieties: rye was my absolute favorite, of course. I’m tweaking it with oats or sweet rice instead for those GF friends and hope to have both versions on the blog this fall.
Another oat inspiration wagon we're jumping on is overnights oats. My oldest daughter and I are making a sporadic tradition of evening oat creations to replace our old favorite morning cereals. Look for that post this fall, too, with some of our oat toasting/type comparisons.
Do you have any other outside-the-box ideas for oats or oat flours for us to try? Any tips on cups versus grams (I'm diving into that GF topic, too, while I'm at this.)?
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
I made the 2017 Top-40 Food Allergy blogs!
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy