Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I said I was on a break. I've never been good at putting myself on time outs.
These little gems were the result of an emergency gluten-free baking consultation session with a newly GF friend last night. I had to share the success story, because it is close to my heart! Imagine the following situation: you just found out you're allergic to lots of stuff, you're freaking out, you don't know what to eat, and then I show up on your door with a box of gluten free flours, a great big smile, and lots of determination to help you bake up something good.
My dear friend B is an amazing baker - truly amazing - and makes cakes so beautiful you'd expect she went to pastry school. Her buttercream frostings are epic. She makes cookies and candies and pies that melt your heart. But, in a rather tragic turn of events, she just found out she has allergies to rice, wheat, dairy, and eggs, as well as legumes, most nuts and seeds. She suspects additional allergies to oats, corn, and soy, as well as other foods, but she isn't sure. She is very allergic to the cats she loves deeply. All these allergies explain a lot about the symptoms she's been dealing with, and she's already noticing some positive changes after cutting these foods out of her diet. But she has a long way to go, and a lot more unanswered questions.
As anyone who has gone through this knows, adjusting to new a new diet is HARD. Really hard. And she's in the thick of it. She doesn't know what to eat. She doesn't know what to take with her for snacks during the day, has a heck of a time making stuff for dinner, and is trying to deal with all of this while planning her wedding and finishing grad school.
Watching her go through this reminds me of how hard it was to change my diet a couple years ago, and how confused and alone and anxious I felt at first. It also reminds me how far I've come, and how much more I know now. Lately I have been thinking about starting to market my services to people who need to change their diets, as sort of a dietary restriction lifestyle consultant. I love this stuff. I love helping people get excited about cooking and food and new ingredients. I love giving people tools they can use to change their life. I love opening people's eyes to new things. Even though my heart is aching for Becky having to go through this, I am kind of excited to have the opportunity to share information with a receptive audience, one-on-one. I've been lending out cookbooks, sending her recipes, and giving her suggestions for snacks. I think I've overwhelming her with information, actually; I tend to be like a geyser when I'm excited about something.
After not hearing from her for a couple days, I got a text yesterday morning: "Feel like baking later?"
"YES!" I replied. I couldn't wait. After work I packed up my box of flours, threw a bunch of other stuff in a bag, and went over to her house. We talked about how she was feeling. We talked about what kind of baked goods she was craving. I introduced her to a bunch of different flours and talked about helpful pantry items. After rambling about the qualities of various flours and options for egg replacers, she said "You should give personal cooking lessons." I smiled. "Seriously," she said, "just show up and tell people what to do. I'm so frustrated right now with this whole situation that I don't want to deal with figuring this out myself. I even love to bake, and trying to figure this stuff out is not fun. If you could show up and tell people what to do next, you could actually make this fun. This is a great idea."
YES! She totally reaffirmed my plan to start working with people one-on-one.
Since B is allergic to rice, we wanted to make sure to use recipes that were rice-free. This was easy - I don't usually use rice flour when I bake, tending to prefer the added nutritional benefits and hearty flavor of other gluten free flours. Honestly, I don't think that I'm a great gluten-free baker, but I'm decent, given all the restrictions I have to deal with. What I lack in inherent baking mojo I make up for in passion and determination. First we made buckwheat-quinoa flatbread from my favorite no-fail flatbread recipe framework, which, oddly enough, I've never posted to this blog, but have made for friends many times. That recipe is my standby. We also made muffins, a variation of my Applesauce Muffins with Currants and Goji Berries. I made those muffins a lot last summer when I was eating more sweet stuff. Sadly, these days, those muffins are a little too sugary for me. Since we were baking for her, the sweet factor wasn't a problem, so we tweaked the recipe to fit her needs and tastes. Due to her flax allergy and nervousness about chia, we used Ener-G egg replacer. I have never used Ener-G before (it contains potato starch and I'm allergic), so it was fun to see how it worked in a recipe.
By the end of the night, despite being tired, she was smiling. The baked goods passed with flying colors with both her and her fiancé, who is also a very good baker. After she wrapped up slices of the bread for grab-and-go snacks and tucked them away in the freezer, she nibbled happily on a warm muffin. She told me it was cinnamony and sweet and pretty awesome. "I'm going to eat these with pleasure," she said. Laughing, I told her that I wanted to call them B's Pleasure Muffins, but we decided that sounded kind of dirty. Anyway, she planned on eating the muffins for breakfast this morning, smeared with coconut butter or applesauce or cashew butter. Oddly, she is allergic to all tree nuts except cashew, just like me. Thank god for the cashew. At least we have that! I'm excited to call her and see how the muffins treated her for breakfast.
Given her allergic turn of events, I have a feeling I'll be coming up with a lot more rice-free baked goods. I'm working on a very delicious chocolate sandwich cookie that is killer, and, conveniently, rice-free. Rice-allergic people, rejoice!
And as for this blogging break I was putting myself on, well, we'll see how well it goes. I've never been good at restricting myself from doing things I love! But I really do need to get down to business on some important non-food related life business. And in the food realm, I need to channel energy into my vegetable cookbook. I want to make it happen as soon as possible! So yeah, maybe I'll post again soon, maybe I won't...we'll see :) Either way, know that I'm still cooking up lots of good stuff to share with you and trying to formulate a game plan of how I can offer consultations and classes to people!
CINNAMON RAISIN RICE-FREE MUFFINS (gluten-free, rice-free, vegan)
These muffins should equally well with a variety of egg replacers: flax gel, chia gel, or Ener-G. To make these more ACD-friendly, omit agave and use stevia instead, and omit raisins and add chopped nuts or seeds. If the applesauce is too sugary for you, you might try using pureed cooked zucchini, or mashed sweet potato or squash that has been thinned out to the consistency of applesauce. I haven't tried those yet, but think it would be worth a shot - I plan to try it soon, if you do before me, let me know how it works!
yield 12 muffins
3/4 cup teff flour
3/4 cup amaranth flour (or quinoa flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 "egg" - 1 tsp EnerG egg replacer + 2 Tbsp water OR 1 Tbsp ground chia or flax + 3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 cups unsweetened organic applesauce (for fruit substitutions see notes above)
optional: 2 Tbsp agave nectar (or 10-20 drops stevia liquid)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or other light tasting oil
1/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit
optional: 1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds
Sift together flours in a medium bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk briskly until well combined. Set aside. Then, in a large bowl, add your prepared "egg" along with applesauce, oil, agave, and stir until well mixed.
Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring gently and quickly until evenly moistened. Then gently fold in raisins and coconut, and stir only until evenly mixed. Batter will be thick. Spoon immediately into muffin tins, filling all the way to the top for big, plump muffins! Bake at 350º for 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in largest muffin comes out clean. Cool in tin for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
Store in refrigerator, or wrap tightly and freeze for longer storage.
APPROXIMATE NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING