Saturday, January 27, 2007

Honey-Cereal Candy

This is the vegan, corn-free, gluten-free, soy-free version of rice krispies treats. No marshmallows or refined sugars involved.

If you cook the syrup a little longer, it will be more reminiscent of the honey-sesame hard candies with a texture like nut brittle.

You can substitute other kinds of cereal, such as puffed rice, crispy rice cereal, the round O's type of cereal, or a mixture of several kinds. Different cereals will absorb varying amounts of liquid, so start with 3 cups of cereal and add enough so that the caramel is evenly coating all the cereal without collecting pools of liquid.

The cooking time and temperature given gets the caramel to a soft- or medium-ball stage. This yields a soft, slightly chewy texture at room temperature.

For a chewier, stiffer or even crunchy candy, just increase the cooking time until the caramel reaches a higher temperature and the desired stiffness. Drop a small amount of the syrup into cold water to test what it will be like when cooled.


1 cup honey
1/3 cup oil (I used safflower oil)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 and 1/2 cups puffed millet


Oil an 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 pan.

Cook the honey, salt and oil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Make sure that you use a saucepan large enough to handle the honey mixture boiling up to several times its height--probably at least a 1 to 2 quart pan.

Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes, until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees F. The mixture will thicken and darken in color, and a drop of the syrup will have the texture of chewy caramel when cooled.

Remove caramel from heat and stir in the cereal. Smooth the mixture into the oiled dish and allow to cool slowly to room temperature.

While it's still slightly soft, cut the candy into small squares (2" or so is good, but you'll want to make them bite-sized if you cooked the caramel to a hard ball or hard-crack stage). The recipe as written will stay soft enough to cut at room temperature, but don't try to refrigerate it first and then cut it. :)

If you have leftovers, wrap each piece individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze the pieces in a larger bag. The colder the candy gets, the harder it is.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Parsnip Cake

Tender, moist, sweet and delicious!

You've heard of carrot cake, but have you ever thought of trying parsnip cake? It has a sweeter, milder flavor than carrot cake. The parsnip, spices and brown sugar give it a special, almost caramel-like taste. If you don't tell your kids, they'll never guess they're eating their vegetables.

My family dislikes parsnips, so I'm always trying to find ways to disguise them. I baked this cake for company tomorrow. What started out as "just a taste" tonight turned out to be the family devouring half the cake before we enforced a limit.

This cake creates a bit of a crispy crust on top and is good without frosting. If you can tolerate dairy products, some lightly sweetened whipped cream would probably complement the flavors nicely.

If desired it can be eaten warm, straight from the oven.

Parsnip Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix together and set aside, stirring occasionally:
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 cup boiling water

Oil a 9 x 13-ish cake pan and lightly dust with flour.

Blend together:
2 and 1/2 cups whole grain flour
2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (I used Featherweight, or see baking powder substitutes here)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (I put mine through a garlic press instead of dicing it. If you don't have fresh ginger, try 1/4 teaspoon of powdered ginger.)

In a separate container, cream together
1 cup oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar (C & H is pure cane sugar, free of corn)

Add to sugar mixture and blend well:
1/2 cup water
Flax seed mixture

To dry ingredients, add liquid ingredients and
3 cups grated parsnip

Mix it all together, pour into the pan and smooth batter flat. Bake at 350 until toothpick comes out clean, approximately 45 minutes.

For the flour, I used 1 and 1/2 cups King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat and 1 cup White Whole Wheat flour; if using gluten-free flour with low binding properties, try 2 cups of a flour such as brown rice or amaranth flour, and 1/2 cup tapioca or sweet rice flour.

If you use a liquid sweetener, you may need to leave out the 1/2 cup of water.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Meaty Spaghetti Squash

This is one of my family's favorite meals--quite a feat since few of us really like (and several truly detest) squash of any kind.

You can cut up the veggies and cook the meat while the squash is baking, or you can do all the cutting, cook the meat and bake the squash ahead of time for a quick combine-and-heat dish that goes in minutes from refrigerator to stove. I like to use my food processor for the grating and dicing. It makes this dish surprisingly simple to put together.

I scrub and peel the carrots and zucchini, but if you use organic unwaxed produce you can leave them unpeeled for more nutrition.

I came up with this recipe by modifying the Savory Spaghetti Squash recipe from Casseroles (from the Eating Better cookbook series) by Sue Gregg. The original recipe calls for tofu marinated in a ginger/lemon juice/soy sauce mixture, along with a few other twists.


1 spaghetti squash
1 lb. italian sausage (I buy a safe uncured sausage made with just meat and fresh herbs at a local butcher shop [Butcher Boys' ground Italian or Breakfast sausage], or there are a few safe brands of chicken sausage available commercially.)
2 medium carrots, grated
1 medium zucchini (use 2 if they're small), grated
2 stalks celery, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash the outside of the spaghetti squash. Bake the whole uncut squash at 375 degrees until tender--about 1 hour. Turn it occasionally during baking (at least once) to get it to cook evenly. (Alternatively, you can cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, and cook it cut side up with 1/4 cup water in the microwave, loosely covered, for about 7-8 minutes per half (you'll have to do one half at a time). Spaghetti squash can also be boiled whole.)

Allow the squash to cool a bit, then cut it in half and scrape out the seeds. If the squash doesn't seem quite done when you cut it open, just add the strands to the rest of the recipe a little early and cook it a bit more on the stovetop.

Brown the meat in a large frying pan or pot over medium heat, crumbling it as you cook. When the sausage is just barely done, drain all but about 3 or 4 tablespoons of the fat (I never drain the fat, but I should for a less watery dish).

Add all ingredients except the spaghetti squash and saute briefly, until the vegetables start to get tender. Use a fork to scrape the spaghetti squash strands from the shells and add them to the meat mixture.

Stir until everything is blended and heated through, then transfer to a casserole or serving dish and serve hot.

This can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, then reheated for serving. If you have the meat cooked in advance, reserve 3-4 tablespoons of the fat and saute the vegetables in it briefly first, then add the meat with the squash. Or you can use vegetable oil, but it won't be quite as flavorful.

Some sausages are spicier than others. If the recipe is too spicy for your family, try mixing the sausage with an equal part of unseasoned meat (I use ground beef if I get a particularly spicy-smelling batch of sausage) and using 1 lb. of the milder mixture in the recipe.

Serves 4 very hungry people as a one-dish casserole, or 6-8 moderate eaters with side dishes (a green salad would be a nice compliment to this meal).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Black Raspberry Muffins

The raspberries and black cherry juice make these muffins so flavorful that you don't need any other sweetener, but you can add a tablespoon or two of sweetener if desired. My kids prefer them with 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of honey added.

I made both whole wheat and gluten-free versions tonight. The gluten-free ones would work best in a mini-muffin tin, but either kind works with no modifications to the recipe other than adjustments to the cooking time.

Mix together and set aside, stirring occasionally:
3 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/2 cup very hot water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil the cups of a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, mix together:
1 and 1/2 cups whole grain flour (I used King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour for one batch, and 1/2 cup each brown rice, amaranth and buckwheat for the other)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (I used Hain Featherweight, or see baking powder substitutes here)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine in blender:
3/4 cup black cherry juice (Knudsen's Just Juice)
2 Tablespoons oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
Flaxseed mixture

Blend berry mixture until smooth.

Add berry mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. You should have just enough liquid to moisten all of the flour mixture. Add a tablespoon or two more juice if you are still seeing dry flour after it all seems to be mixed up.

Divide batter evenly between the cups of the muffin pan.

Bake until a toothpick comes out almost clean (gluten-free batters will be more gooey in the middle, so if the muffin seems solid and has a nice firm crust it is probably done).

I baked the whole wheat mini-muffins for 18-25 minutes and the gluten-free regular-sized muffins for 30-35 minutes. I think the gluten-free muffins might cook slightly more evenly in the mini tin.

My mini-muffin tin has 24 cups and takes the same amount of batter as a regular-sized 12-cup pan.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Carrot-Orange Mini Muffins

Kai requested a vegetarian recipe using vegetables, so I decided to try making carrot muffins for breakfast this morning. The kids love them.

These muffins are a great way to get children (and adults!) to eat their vegetables. Feel free to substitute other types of flour or sweeteners.

Mix together and set aside, stirring occasionally:
4 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/2 cup very hot water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil the cups of a mini-muffin pan.

Wash, peel and slice enough carrots to make 1 cup.

Combine in blender:
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons orange juice (I used Florida's Natural)
2 Tablespoons oil (I used rice bran oil)
2 Tablespoons agave nectar or other sweetener (optional: increase orange juice by a tablespoon or two if you decide to leave this out)
1 cup sliced carrots
Flaxseed mixture

Blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, mix together:
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (I used Hain Featherweight, or see baking powder substitutes here)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional: You could probably substitute 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ginger if allergic to cinnamon, or just leave the spice out, but I have not tested this)

Add carrot mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. You should have just enough liquid to moisten all of the flour mixture. Add a tablespoon or two more orange juice if you are still seeing dry flour after it all seems to be mixed up.

Divide batter evenly between the cups of the mini-muffin tin.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

My mini-muffin tin has 24 cups and takes the same amount of batter as a regular-sized 12-cup pan. You could probably bake these muffins in a regular tin and just cook them a little longer.

If you like a stronger orange flavor, try adding a little bit (1/2 to 1 tsp) of grated orange peel (not recommended if allergic to corn, as the outsides of fruits are often treated with corn derivatives).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cold & Flu Honey Lemon Tea

This tea is soothing for sore throats and helps to break up mucus. Lemon and salt are good detoxifiers, and honey coats and soothes the throat. Raw honey supposedly has antibacterial properties.

The resulting beverage tastes a little like hot gatorade.

Into a 6-ounce cup (standard size coffee mug), add:

1 tablespoon lemon juice or the juice from half a medium lemon.
1/8 teaspoon additive-free sea salt (I like RealSalt)
1 tablespoon raw honey
Enough hot water to fill the mug.

Stir and sip slowly, inhaling the steam.

If desired, you can leave the sweetener out or increase the lemon juice to 2 tablespoons, using a slightly larger mug if desired. This will give it a more tart taste.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Using Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a gluten-free grain with especially high vitamin and protein content, but many people don't use it because they aren't familiar with it. Quinoa grain has a bitter coating called saponin that must be washed off before it is eaten.

The secret to cooking whole quinoa is to wash the quinoa really, really well (rinse until it stops foaming, then a little more). You can also accomplish this by soaking the grain for several hours, changing the water several times during the process.

Toasting the rinsed quinoa is a good way to bring out the nutty flavor before adding the water and cooking it. Heat it over medium-low heat in a frying pan until the kernels are dry and starting to turn golden-brown.

To cook whole quinoa, use 2 parts water or broth to 1 part quinoa and prepare just like rice. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it until the liquid is absorbed.

Quinoa flour does tend to have a bit of a bitter flavor, so I always use something with a strong flavor to offset the bitterness--white sugar won't do it. You need something like brown sugar, molasses or maple syrup. Those types of flavors work well with the quinoa flavor.

If it is excessively bitter, it is probably rancid. Smell it. If the smell is really sour/bitter, like fumes rising up off it, it is rancid.

These alternate flours like quinoa and amaranth get rancid easily, so you need to store them in a tightly-closed container in the refrigerator or freezer. If it is rancid and you bought it recently, you should be able to return/exchange it where you bought it.

Vegan Waffles or Pancakes

Note: I have significantly revised this recipe, and the flavor and texture is much improved. It no longer sticks to my waffle iron, while at the same time being less greasy. I am still working on refining the gluten-free version, but the whole wheat version should give more consistent results now.

Here is a waffle or pancake recipe free of sugars, eggs and dairy products.

Other types of flour will work, too. Try fruit juice instead of the milk for a fun flavor that requires no extra topping. You can substitute any liquid for the rice milk--water, juice, milk or your favorite non-dairy milk substitute. If you prefer a sweeter flavor, add a tablespoon of honey, brown sugar or your favorite sweetener.

Mix together and heat until gelled:
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
1 cup very hot water

Set aside flax mixture, stirring occasionally.

Preheat waffle iron.

Mix together in a large bowl:
2 cups whole-grain flour (so far I have used spelt and brown rice flour)
4 teaspoons safe baking powder (I used Featherlight [contains potato starch], or see here for baking powder substitutes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon psyllium seed powder (increase to 1 teaspoon if using a gluten-free flour low in binding properties)

Beat together:
1 and 1/2 cups rice milk
1/4 cup oil (I used expeller-pressed apricot kernel oil)
Flax seed mixture

Quickly stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until blended. Let the batter rest for a couple of minutes while the flour absorbs the liquid. If it seems too thick, add more liquid. I find I need about 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra liquid with gluten-free waffles.

Bake in a waffle iron as you would any other waffles. Cook until you are not seeing large quantities of steam rising from the iron, which may be a bit longer than the automatic setting would indicate. Sometimes I need to lightly oil my waffle iron to keep waffles from sticking.

These can be topped with sweet (fruit, applesauce, syrup, etc) or savory (meat or vegetables in gravy or white sauce--a sausage/rice milk gravy would be delicious) flavors, or eaten plain.

To make pancakes, increase liquid to make the batter the desired texture.