Potluck Fair: Grain-Free Sweet Potato Bread

I went to a potluck Sunday. I love meals shared, but potlucks have become a bit of a tricky business. Most of the trickiness revolves around the following two questions:

  1. Do you stalk down the creator of each dish and politely demand an ingredients list? Do you take a risk? There have been several potlucks where the only dish I have eaten is the one I have also made.
  2. Will my gluten-free dish (especially if it’s a baked one) be embraced or shunned? Gluten-free is often associated with texture differences, flavor differences, etc. Generally I’m not too worried about this one, honestly. If they don’t eat it, more for me!

But this particular group of potluckers is great. Probably close to 1/2 of us have food allergies, or are married to someone with food allergies, and so the conversation is open and enthusiastic. Things that dishes “lack” are broadcasted with pride. And no one minds offering an ingredient list.

And this bread, well it went over well with the whole crowd, gluten-free and not. Success!


Grain-Free Sweet Potato Bread

I am trying to find a balance between nut butters/flours and coconut flour. Coconut flour on its own has a distinct texture that I don’t mind, but other people (husband included) seem to. Joshua’s reaction to this bread however, was to liken it to a poundcake in lightness and texture. Poor thing misses my pre-gluten-free poundcake.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup creamy almond butter
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 cup cooked sweet potato, flesh removed from the peel
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp liquid stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (alcohol free)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 dash clove and nutmeg
1/4 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
coconut oil (for greasing)
1/2 cup cashew icing (recipe follows)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a single loaf pan
  2. In a food processor, combine the first four ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low, using a spatula to scrape the bottom and edges as necessary. The batter should be consistent, but not overworked.
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the loaf is slightly firm to the touch (you could also use a toothpick).
  5. Allow to cool almost completely before icing.
  6. Dust with cinnamon and serve slightly warm.

To store, keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Warm gently before serving. If you are planning on reheating, I recommend not icing the whole loaf at once, but instead slice by slice.

Cashew Icing

Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 8 hours and drained
2 tbsp
1-2 tbsp agave or 1/8 tsp liquid stevia (to taste)
a couple drops vanilla and lemon extract (alcohol free)
water

Directions:

Blend all ingredients except for the water at a medium high setting. Slowly add water until desired consistency is reached. Blend for several minutes until the mixture turns from grainy to creamy. Chill for at least two hours to allow to set.

ENJOY on this rainy little day of ours.

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Eating healthy and gluten-free on a budget

I had a friend message me a couple weeks back asking how I afforded to eat the way I eat. It’s a great question! For sure most products advertised as being gluten-free cost more than the products they imitate. And certainly organic gets expensive. But I believe that eating healthy (and gluten-free) is possible with any budget. Here are a few tips that have worked for me.

  1. Find a farmer’s market near you that is open at a time you can go, and get the majority of your produce from there. Eating seasonally and locally when it comes to produce can really help drive down the cost. Also, plan on putting a good chunk of your budget here… it is worth it. Stock up on dark leafy greens that will fill you up and give you lots of nutrients. Talk to the farmers at the market too. While not all of them can afford to be certified organic, many are still pesticide free. And it’s just nice to talk to them.
  2. Shop sales and coupons. I rarely go into a grocery store with a list. I find what is on sale that fits in my lifestyle and I focus on that. I also focus way more on purchasing nuts and nut butters with my budget than on pastas or other grains. Always be on the lookout for protein powder on sale if you are as obsessed with smoothies as I am. And stock up on cheap staples like beans, frozen fruit (when on sale), and frozen vegetables.
  3. Buy from the bulk department. especially with rice/quinoa/nuts (DON’T DO THIS IF YOU HAVE A SEVERE INTOLERANCE as cross-contamination is somewhat inevitable). And don’t forget POPCORN (perhaps the only reason I refuse to be completely grain-free).
  4. Purchase flours online (swanson and amazon are both great resources for this).
  5. Cook from scratch, and avoid prepackaged gluten-free products. It is a little more time consuming, but cheaper and almost always healthier. Stick with simple meals, or set aside an afternoon to cook a big dish of something you can freeze/store for the week. Curries are great for this.
  6. Make breakfast for dinner. This was a recommendation by karina allrich, aka the gluten free goddess, and I love it. You can get wonderful fresh local eggs from the farmer’s market for $3.50 or less a dozen. Breakfast is filling and delicious and, budget put aside, one of my favorite things to have for dinner.
  7. Choose to spend more on your grocery budget and cut something elsewhere. It is that important! We generally go out to eat less than once a week. We find a free show at a coffeeshop versus going to a ten dollar movie (supporting local AND saving money). Those little budget savers can make a huge difference in your grocery budget.

What are your strategies for staying on budget when it comes to food? I know there are many more creative solutions out there!

Also, something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, how do you connect community and food?

 

A raw re-make: strawberry pretzel salad

I don’t remember how old I was when strawberry pretzel salad was introduced as a part of our thanksgiving menu. Not a dessert but a side, it was delicious, offering the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Ali and I, being the seat of our pants vegetarians that we were, turned this dish and mashed potatoes into our entrees. Seconds and thirds. Fourths even.

At some point I became aware of what I was eating, and my portions slimmed. And then last year, diagnosis and lifestyle change in hand, I ate strawberry-jello-two-cups-of-sugar-and-a-tub-of-cream-cheese “salad” no more.

This is a raw re-make of my previously beloved salad. Made with nuts (I know you’re surprised), and lightly sweetened with local honey and liquid stevia, this dessert is considerably more nutrient-dense (although probably similar in caloric content), and was inspired by the numerous raw cheesecake recipes out there (so many, so good).

 

Raw Strawberry “Pretzel” Squares

“Pretzel Crust” Layer Ingredients:

2 cups raw almonds, soaked overnight
3-4 coconut date rolls (date logs rolled in unsweetened coconut)
or
1/4 cup medjool dates, soaked for two hours
1/8 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
a good pinch of sea salt

“Cream Cheese” Layer Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 8 hours
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
3 tbsp raw (local) honey
20 drops of liquid stevia (start with 10 and add to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp water (as necessary to reach smooth consistency)

Strawberry Layer Ingredients:

2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the crust ingredients until the almonds are rough chopped, and everything is evenly incorporated.
  2. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ dish and set aside.
  3. In a vitamix or high speed blender, combine all ingredients for the cream layer. Blend on medium speed for several minutes, mixing/adding water as necessary, until smooth.
  4. Pour cream mixture on top of crust layer and spread evenly.
  5. Allow to set in the freezer for three hours.
  6. Blend thawed strawberries until pulp forms but some strawberry pieces remain. May be done in blender, food processor, or even with a fork.
  7. Spread strawberry layer on top, and chill for an additional three hours or overnight in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve firm, slightly frozen even.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Chard Tarts (a brief photo essay)

find the recipe for this delicious recipe here although I used the original crust recipe from Elana’s Pantry just adding in the rosemary. I prefer eggs over oil almost always.

spiced pumpkin creme recipe to follow. it needs just a touch of tweaking, but gracious I think it’s going to be my favorite warm dessert.

 

 

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