wheat free almond macaroon

The Easiest Wheat-Free Almond Cookies EVER!

Sometimes us moms are just a little pressed for time. However, in my opinion, that doesn’t take away the importance of creating a homemade, minimally processed treat you can feel good about placing in the kids’ school lunches. So, yesterday, I set out to make some of the easiest, fastest cookies ever: Gluten-Free Almond Macaroons.

All you need is:

  • 1 package Solo Almond Paste, 8 oz(Solo is gluten-free; other brands are not. Please check your labels!)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I reduced this sugar by 1/4 cup; most recipes call for a 1/2 cup per batch.)
  • 1 egg white

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 325º. Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment.
  • Simply break up the almond paste, and then combine with sugar and egg white.
  • I piped the cookies onto the cookie sheet using a large star tip; you can also use a teaspoon-sized dollop if you don’t mind irregular edges on your cookies.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes util the tops are just turning golden.

almond paste wheat free
Solo Almond Paste is an awesome-tasting, gluten-free and wheat-free ingredient. Not only are Almonds packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, they lend a really nice flavor and texture to baked goods.  I use this versatile product quite often, including in Almond Biscotti, and in various cookies. The brand used to come in a can only, to the best of my knowledge, however, my local grocery store now carries it in a convenient box. I thought the box was not only easier to get the paste out of, but the paste also seemed softer than normal, too. (A good thing when you need to break it up!)

wheat free fig newtons

Wheat-Free (and Healthier!) Homemade Fig Newtons

Okay, lets just clear this misnomer up right now: Fig Newtons are NOT healthy.

Even though the brand would like you to think they are a healthy choice for lunches and snacking, the cookies are not exactly good for you. Although they are probably a better option then lets say “nutter butters” or “chips ahoy” these classic cookies are only masquerading as nutritious.

Lets look at the ingredient list: 

Unbleached Enriched Flour, Figs, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Whey (from Milk), Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Baking Soda, Cultured Dextrose, Calcium Lactate, Malic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Sulfur Dioxide (Sulfites) added to preserve freshness.

Okay, so if I am reading this right, it contains not only one type of sugar, but THREE. Plus, hydrogenated oils.

Again, not so healthy.

Of course, the major reason I decided to make a homemade batch was because our family cannot handle the wheat. I figure if I am going to do this, why not make the recipe healthier… perhaps even “good for you”… while I am it, too.

For the Filling, you will need:

Filling instructions:

To make the filling, combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil on the stove top. Allow to simmer approximately 30 minutes until the figs are quite soft.  Cool for about 15 minutes. Once cooled, add all contents of the sauce pan to a food processor and blend well until a smooth paste forms. Set aside or refrigerate for later.

Shopping List For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup Roland Quinoa Flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour. (I used my own blend which includes almond flour. You can find it in my book. Or, choose a ready-to-use brand, such as Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour.)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon grated rind from an orange
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar

Dough preparation:

  • Combine all of the wet ingredients and the white sugar in a stand mixer.
  • Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Slowly add to the wet mixture and blend until smooth.
  • Divide the dough into four equal portions and roll each into a ball. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

To assemble and bake:

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. (The fig will leak out and create a sticky mess on the pan.)
  • On a floured surface, roll out each dough ball into a long narrow piece. (Approximately 10 inches x 4-ish inches.) The dough should be on the thin-side, similar to pie crust. (I used almond flour for flouring the surface, which lent to a more almond-y flavor and a slight texture to the cookie. You can use regular flour, though.)
  • Down the middle of each dough log, place a 1/4 of the fig filling and smooth out across the dough.
  • Fold each long side of the dough to meet in the center of the cookie, and press down lightly to create a “seal” for the filling. (A little will still leak out.)
  • Cut each log into newton-sized strips, about two inches wide. Transfer cookie, seam-side down, to a prepared baking sheet. The cookies can be pretty tight as they do not expand much.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until golden! Cool directly on the pan before removing. Enjoy!

wheat free healthy homemade fig newton

wheat free coconut almond cookies

Coconut-Almond Cookies

Although you don’t have to use chocolate chips, I threw about a cup or so of mini ones in these babies to make them more like “Almond Joy Bars”, and the results were pretty successful. (I generally gauge the success in our house by how quickly the cookies go. These were cleared from teh plate pretty quickly!)

Shopping List:

  • 3/4 cup virgin coconut oil (Do not get refined, use pure oil, otherwise you will not taste the coconut!)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal/flour
    /flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (Eliminate if your gluten free flour has it in it already.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Optional: one cup chocolate chips

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
  • Cream together coconut oil, sugars and almond extract.
  • Add eggs and blend.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flours, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda.)
  • Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and combine until smooth.
  • Mix in chocolate chips by hand.
  • Drop teaspoon-full dough from spoon onto lined cookie sheets. (Make sure you allow adequate room for expansion; these get much wider and flatten out in the oven.)
  • Bake for about 6 -8 minutes until centers of cookies are set and edges are golden.

For this recipe, I used Roland quinoa flour. Quinoa flour is a natural source of fiber and a good source of iron, and is a unique whole grain food in that it  is also complete protein. It is naturally gluten-free and wheat-free.

wheat free coconut almond cookies

Marinated, Grilled Steak

New in the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity: Athletic Improvement Through The Gluten Free Diet

If you have not already subscribed to the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity you may want to reconsider.The latest issue contains several interesting articles and points of view. Many of the articles are based around the central theme of families and students… and, of course, dealing with gluten-issues affecting families with children, the education system and athletics.

In my own article in this edition of the Journal, I explore the idea of enhancing one’s athletic performance by adopting a gluten-free diet.  The article provides a two-sided argument and attempts to answer whether athletic performance is improve because of diet — or— if the diet improves “undiagnosed” intolerants, therefore improving their endurance, recovery time and overall athleticism.

In the general population, it has been estimated that 60% of children and 41% of adults who were diagnosed “positive” for Celiac (an auto-immune disorder in which those affected have the most serious and long-term issues with gluten) were asymptomatic when they received their Celiac diagnosis. Apply that same number… perhaps even more… to athletes, and there are likely a good deal who are going undiagnosed and unknowingly under-performing. The truth is most athletes are conditioned (either by nature, or by nurture) to endure a bit of “pain”; making them even more likely than the general population to chalk up discomfort to working out too hard or too often, growing pains, or even stress.

On the flip side, the gluten-free lifestyle does lend itself to some improvement, even in non-intolerant athletes. The increased protein levels, fiber intake, and tendency to adopt “cleaner” foods could improve performance in just about any sport or fitness routine.

The Journal of Gluten Sensitivity is available in print or as an online subscription through Celiac.com’s Gluten Free Mall. To read the entire article and subscribe to the Journal, please visit:

406w x 261h Gluten-Free Mall for Gluten-Free Foods

wheat free apple muffins

Easy Wheat-Free (Almost Paleo!) Apple Muffins

An easy way to start the morning… or, even to end the day!

These muffins use flax “eggs” so they are also egg-free and dairy-free for those who want to avoid those ingredients due to allergies. Plus, they are very low in added-sugar to help you avoid the overly processed stuff in your diet!

If you skip the cinnamon-sugar topping, the muffins are almost Paleo, too; except for the white rice flour, that is. (If you are so inclined, you could easily substitute white rice flour for coconut flour or straight almond flour.) Because they are nearly Paleo, you will notice that they are a little more dense than regular “cake-y” muffins, but they are also more filling and nutritious as well.

Shopping List for Muffins:

  • 1 3/4 cups Almond Meal/Flour
  • 1/4 cup Rice Flour (White)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 peeled and grated apples
  • 3 tablespoons Flaxseed plus 9 tablespoons room temperature water (to create “flax eggs”)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

For topping:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 325º degrees.
  • Create flax eggs by combing flaxseed and water. Allow to sit 5 minutes.
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
  • In a microwave-safe cup or small bowl, heat honey and coconut oil for 30 seconds to melt.
  • Add warmed honey, coconut oil,  flax, and grated apples to the dry ingredients and mix  well by hand. (Or, you can use a stand mixer to thoroughly blend ingredients.)
  • Fill lined muffin tins (almost full, as these will not rise much.)
  • To top, combine cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle over batter.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and toothpick comes out clean.

I used Spectrum Organic Flaxseed in this recipe. It plumps nice, and I have always found it to be a great substitute for eggs in baked goods. Compared to other brands, this one is reasonably priced without skimping on quality. Just two tablespoons of this added about three grams of fiber to the recipe.

wheat free apple muffins

butter yellow wheat free cake

Wheat-Free Buttery Yellow Cake

Some occasions… like a birthday… just call for a cake with all the “bad” stuff. You know: sugar, butter, topped with more sugar and butter. I wouldn’t recommend eating like this all of the time; but I think it is okay to every once-in-awhile. It was the request of the birthday girl that I make this one. (She’s always had a powerful “sweet tooth!”)

Everything in moderation, I guess! And, I have to admit, the cake is moist, buttery, and delicious. It is also firm and holds up well to frosting. (Or, if you prefer, fruit toppings and whipped cream would be great, too.)

Shopping list for cake:

  • 2 sticks butter soft (plus more for coating pan)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (use “refined” if you do not want an overwhelming coconut taste)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups gluten free flour (Plus about a tablespoon to dust the pan)
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (Unless your flour blend has xanthan gum in it. Then you may eliminate this!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    For buttery frosting:

  • 1 stick butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (use “refined” if you do not want an overwhelming coconut taste)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350º. Butter and flour a 9″ baking pan.
  • In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla, and oil.
  • Add sugar and blend well.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Slowly add in the milk and continue beating.
  • Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add to mixer very slowly, allowing flour to disappear into the mix before more flour is added in.
  • Pour batter into a buttered and floured pan and bake for approximately 80-90 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Frosting Prep:

While your cake is in the oven, prepare your frosting by creaming together butter, vanilla, and oil. Slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar until you reach your desired frosting consistency. (More sugar equals stiffer frosting which is better for piping.)

gluten free buttery cake

I suppose you could probably make this cake using all coconut-oil in place of the butter, making a healthier version. If you use refined coconut oil, there will not be much of a “tropical” taste to the cake. If you love the taste of coconut, by all means use the unrefined stuff. It is cheaper, and tastes like a trip to the beach.

wheat free apple cider donuts

Apple Cider Mini Donuts with Nutella frosting

These little cutes are much better for you than regular donuts… even if you can eat wheat! They contain no “added” refined sugar in the donut batter, and instead rely on apple cider, honey, and a quick frost with Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut spread to add some sweetness.

Shopping List:

  • 3 cups gluten free flour (Plus 1 teaspoon xanthan gum if yours does not contain it!)
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh apple cider
  • 1/2 cup plain almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Nutella

Preparation:

    • Whisk together dry ingredients.
    • Heat apple cider and honey in a microwave-safe measuring cup for 1 minute.
    • Add cider, milk to dry mixture and stir.
    • Add in egg, and whisk until well-blended.
    • Bake each batch approximately 4 minutes in a mini donut maker such as the Babycakes Nonstick Coated Donut Maker
    • Frost with Nutella spread once cooled, and serve!

Nutella is the” original creamy chocolaty hazelnut spread.” Contains no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives! It is also Gluten-free and Kosher!

allergy free blueberry muffin

Allergen-Free Blueberry Breakfast Muffins

These fresh blueberry muffins are a great way to start (or end!) a busy day! Better yet… they contain NONE of the top 8 allergens if you choose the flax egg replacement and a dairy-free gluten-free flour blend!

Shopping List:

  • Flax egg replacement (Combine 1 tablespoon flax seed into 3 tablespoons of room temperature water. Let sit for 8 minutes.) —OR— use 1 large Egg.
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (Omit if you are using a flour with xanthan gum included in it.)
  • dash of salt
  • 1 3/4 cup Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Once flax egg is thickened, add flax mixture, oil, sugar to a mixing bowl. Blend on low speed or by hand.
  • In a seperate bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and flour. Once combined, slowly add flour to the mixing bowl with the flax and oil.
  • Add almond milk and applesauce to the mixture until smooth.
  • Stir in the blueberries by hand.
  • Pour into 12 equal portions into lined muffin/cupcake cups. Bake at 350º for about 20-25 minutes.

 I personally used Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour in this recipe. Please note that if you want your recipe to be completely allergen-free, you will need to use another brand of gluten-free flour. This particular brand contains milk powder as an ingredient in the blend.

wheat free paleo bites recipe

Paleo Energy Bites

Here is pretty much how my conversation with my husband went down when he arrived home from work to see a fresh batch of my new Paleo-inspired creation:

“Rum balls! Nice!”

“Nope. I’m calling them Paleo Bites. They’re made with dates.”

“Oh.” Puts the lid back on the tupperware.

“Just try one.”

Opens the lid back up: “Mmmm. They’re good, sort of like pumpkin pie.”

“They’re not pumpkin. They’re dates.”

“Whatever. They’re good.”

The good news (or bad news, depending on how you look at it!) is that the Paleo Bites were a hit in our household; meaning they were all devoured almost immediately. The better news is that these treats are healthy and full of all the delicious nutrition that dates and almonds bring… Plus, they are soooo super easy, whipping up a new batch is hardly any work at all.

Shopping List:

  • 1 1/4 cup almond meal, plus additional for coating (Almond meal can be natural with skins on unlike almond flour which is skinless.)
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 4 tablespoons Gluten Free Quick Cooking Oats
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Optional Add-ins: dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes, raisins, or cranberries

Preparation:

  • After pitting dates, place dates, 1 1/4 c. almond meal, oats, cinnamon, and water in a food processor and process until dates are smooth and mixture is well-blended.
  • Once well blended, mix in your additional optional items by hand.
  • Roll into balls. Roll each ball in leftover almond meal (this “coating” helps prevent the balls fom being sticky!)
  • Refrigerate leftovers!

paleo bites gluten free

Now that I look at them like this, they do sort of look like some rum ball cookies, huh? 

wheat free pistachio cupcake using hodgson mill gluten free cake

Wheat-Free Cake Doctor: Easy Pistachio Cupcakes using Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Cake Mix

The cake doctor is in! (Or, should I say “cupcake” doctor!) If you don’t have time to whip up dessert or packable treats, simply doctor-up a box mix to make it something special! They are perfect for any cake emergency :)

These easy cupcakes in particular offer a more sophisticated flavor profile than regular ‘ole yellow cake mix, by getting “tricky” with some pistachio-flavored instant pudding.

To make the cupcakes, you will need:

  • 1 box Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 4-serving size (3.4 oz) box of Pistachio Jell-O Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
    (Instant Pistachio pudding from Kraft is wheat-free. It is not certified gluten-free, however, according to the Kraft website, the food starch they use in this product is corn-based.)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • Optional for color: 5 drops green McCormick Food Color (McCormick coloring is gluten-free)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Grease muffin cups (cupcakes) or use paper liners in about 18 cups.
  • Measure out 1 cup almond milk, and add the vinegar to it. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream together oil, pudding mix, and cake mix and blend completely. Add 3 eggs,almond milk, food coloring, and almond extract and beat well. Batter will be thick.
  • Pour or scoop batter into prepared cupcake pans.
  • Bake approximately 20 minutes.

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Want to top them off? Chocolate goes great with Pistachio! This easy chocolate ganache was made with 4 tablespoons coconut oil, 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1 square of bakers chocolate on low heat on the stove top. Stir continuously to avoid clumping, and frost immediately on cooled cakes!