Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hint O' Chocolate Banana Muffins (Gluten Free, Sugar Free)


That, my dear readers, is the sound of a deep sigh of relief. It's been ten days since my last post (but who's counting?), and it's not because I haven't been in the kitchen. On the contrary. I've been in the kitchen every day! I feel a little bit like Goldilocks. No, this muffin's too dry. This one's too moist. Ah, but this one...this one's just right. Ever since Linda, The Gluten Free Homemaker, introduced her muffin challenge, I've been dreaming of muffins. Muffins with pumpkin. Muffins with chocolate and bananas. Sugar free muffins. Moist, chewy muffins.

At first I tried to make pumpkin muffins, but unlike my sweet potato and banana muffins, the sugar free pumpkin muffins just weren't happening. I don't even remember how many versions I made before giving up and moving on to another idea.. Chocolate and banana muffins.

I'd never made chocolate muffins, so I did what I always do when trying a new gluten free idea. I searched the blogs for inspiration. This time it came in the form of vanilla cupcakes from The Gluten Free Goddess. So I mixed, I added, I subtracted, I tasted, and then I went back to the drawing board and did it all over again. And again.

My first muffins were decent, but they were a little too dry. Despite that, I found myself eating too many and not feeling great. So I cut out the agave nectar and decided to go one hundred percent sugar free. No agave, no molasses or honey, no dates. Nothing that would be a trigger for me. Just the bananas to sweeten them.

These ones were too dry...

The only problem was that my bananas weren't ripe enough, and I couldn't find any overripe bananas at the store. So I bought baby food. Organic banana puree. Good idea right? I thought so. But my muffins were so moist, I could barely get them out of the muffin tins. They just sort of flopped on the plate.

These ones were too moist...

At this point, I was starting to dream about muffins at night. I had visions of the Great Muffin Challenge being the end of me, the end of The Daily Dietribe. People would ask, what ever happened to that gluten free blog? That Iris just disappeared. And they would shake their heads and say, "The muffins did her in."

Perhaps I'm being a tad melodramatic? I actually did dream about muffins last night. I was sleeping but I could hear myself thinking about proportions of ingredients and how to try again this morning. Even though this is my first morning of Spring Break, and I went to bed excited that I didn't have to set my alarm, I was up at 7:30, ready to give the muffins one last try. I knew this was it. If they didn't turn out right today, the muffin challenge and I were over.

As the muffins baked, I prayed that they would come out of the muffin tins. That they wouldn't be too dry or too moist. That they wouldn't turn to mush in my hands or crumble into pieces. I left them in for twenty minutes, then checked. Still not done in the middle. Twenty five minutes. Not done. Thirty? Nope. I was starting to get nervous. Finally, at forty minutes, I took them out...and success! They came out of the muffin tins!

Oh, and they taste good too. The chocolate is merely a hint, just an added depth. If you didn't know there was cocoa in there, you probably wouldn't be able to guess what that hint of flavor was. And the bananas give it some needed sweetness, but they're still certainly not as sweet as any other muffin I've had. Yet, when I eat them, I don't get that compulsive urge to keep going until I'm full. And they're delicious with a little pat of butter, but they're moist enough that it's not necessary. Unlike a muffin with sugar, which only stokes my craving, these actually satisfy that craving, which for me, seems like a miracle.

So moral of the story? No sugar for me right now. But lots of muffins. And if at first you don't succeed...well, you know the rest.

But these were just right.

Hint O' Chocolate Banana Muffins
Print-Friendly Option

3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup amaranth flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. sea salt

4 medium sized ripe bananas
3/4 cup milk or non-dairy alternative (I used TJ's organic whole grain drink)
2 large eggs

3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Puree the wet ingredients in a food processor or mix with a blender.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to wet and continue to puree in the food processor or blend until completely mixed.
  5. Grease your muffin tins and fill almost to the top with batter. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. *Note: Start checking on your muffins after 25 minutes. Things tend to have to bake longer in my oven. If you try these muffins and find the baking time is different, please leave a comment so my other readers know too.
Makes approx. 12 muffins

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Gluten Free Wednesdays.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pizza Please!

When Amy announced the theme of Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free was Guiltless Pleasures, I immediately thought of pizza. If you've looked at my before and after photos, you may have noticed a little picture of me holding a pizza. That's because I used to work at a pizza place in college, and boy did I eat pizza. And eat. And eat. You know how people say you get tired of eating something once you've worked there long enough? Not true. I never got tired of it. I did, however, get quite tired of the inevitable weight gain that comes along with eating pizza on a daily basis.

When I moved to NYC and started losing weight, pizza became an occasional treat. No more eating it every day, but this is New York after all. You have to try the pizza! Then, right before I stopped eating gluten, a new, delicious pizza place opened up around the corner from my apartment. I only got to try it twice. Sometimes I still walk by and get a little twinge of sadness. Not just because it's good pizza, but also because it's within walking distance and the closest gluten free pizza places require getting on the subway. I love pizza, but not usually enough to go into Manhattan for it. I've also tried some good frozen pizzas from the grocery store, but do I really love pizza enough to pay $10 for a frozen one? Not really. At least not very often.

So of course the solution was to learn how to make my own pizza. Making it myself, I was able to add some of the healthier flours such as millet and amaranth. Plus it's much easier on my wallet. Guiltless? Check. A pleasure? Certainly. And thus you get my guiltless pleasure.

Okay okay, let's be honest. I still couldn't eat this every night. But I can certainly freeze the leftovers and eat it once a week.

Now here's the great thing about this pizza. If you follow me on twitter, you probably know that I've been making various versions of it all week. The recipe I'm posting is my favorite, but you can definitely play around with this, so if you don't have all of the ingredients on hand, you can still try it. The xantham gum and apple cider vinegar are probably necessary, but I've tried different flour combinations, baking powder instead of the yeast, water instead of milk, and three types of oil. They all produced a decent pizza crust. This particular combination is more than decent though. Dare I say it? It's bold, but I'll say it anyway. I don't think it tastes gluten free.

Oh and one more thing, since Maggie asked. It's super easy and fast to make. Definitely something you can whip up last minute. 10 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to rise, and 30 minutes in the oven, which gives you plenty of time to make a side salad.

Guiltess Gluten Free Pizza
Print-Friendly Option

1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
2 tsp. xantham gum
1 tsp. sea salt

2 egg whites
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp. honey

1 packet active dry yeast (substitute: 1 Tbsp. baking powder)
1 cup warm milk 110-115 degrees F (water or any non-dairy alternative will work fine; I used TJ's new organic whole grain drink)

cornmeal for sprinkling on top

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients until completely mixed. Set aside.
  3. Pour the milk into a small pan on the stove and gently heat. If you don't have a thermometer (I don't), heat the milk until it feels slightly warm on your fingertip. Turn off the heat and pour the yeast into the milk. Stir with a fork.
  4. In a second large bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the rest of the wet ingredients, continuing to whisk.
  5. Whisk the milk and yeast into the wet ingredients. Pour that into the dry ingredients.
  6. Stir it all together until completely mixed. At this point, you'll have a ball of dough. You can either make one large pizza or smaller individual pizzas.
  7. Spray a cookie sheet with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal (rice flour will work fine too). Roll your dough out thin on the sheet. You'll need to sprinkle it with more cornmeal on top to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. I liked the crust best when it was rolled out very thin, almost like pie crust.
  8. Place the cookie sheet with the dough in a warm spot (like on top of the oven) for 10 minutes.
  9. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
  10. Take out and top with your favorite pizza toppings (sauce, cheese, etc.) and place back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Update 3.25.10: This is also an easy recipe to make ahead and freeze. Rather than making one large pizza, make individual mini-pizzas. Allow them to rise 10 minutes as directed and bake for 10 minutes. Then take out and cool. Put in a container in the freezer to grab whenever you want a quick pizza dinner. Just take it out, top it, and put it in the oven (or toaster oven) for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Serves 4-6

Now that I've just about used up my stock of gluten free flours, I'll have to go it GFE style for a while. Meaning, no special gluten free ingredients. Let's see if I can come up with a recipe that anyone can make with normal ingredients. Perhaps something sweet to lure all the gluten-happy people over to the gluten-free side...

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays and the Gluten-Free Wednesday Pizza Challenge at The Gluten-Free Homemaker. It's also linked to Gluten-Free Pizza Fest at ATX Gluten-Free. Stop by for lots of gluten-free pizza recipes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Adopt A Gluten Free Blogger: Hope For Healing

Rainy Day Tomato Soup from Hope For Healing

I've always wanted to participate in Adopt A Gluten Free Blogger, a monthly carnival started by Sea at Book of Yum. But I'm usually so busy working on my own ideas, I never have time to try out all the wonderful recipes I have bookmarked. Well, this month I decided it was time to test out some blogger recipes. And it was so fun (and tasty) I know I'll be wanting to adopt a blogger every month!

Hope For Healing is a wonderful blog written by Stephanie Laidlaw. All of her recipes are gluten free, dairy free, and soy free. I was originally drawn to Stephanie's blog by its classic simplicity and bold photos. I lingered to look at her gluten free dessert recipes. And I came back to try out her healthy meals.

Since it was so rainy all week, I decided to make Stephanie's Rainy Day Tomato Soup. It was perfect for a rainy day, and has been keeping me happy all week long since I made a double batch. I desperately wanted to try one of Stephanie's baked goods as well, but self-preservation prevailed. Whatever I made, I would end up eating the whole batch and then being mad at myself. Better just to enjoy the photos from afar! But here are the links to some of the recipes I'm dying to try when I have a potluck to go to and can't eat them all by myself:
I could go on, but you'll just have to stop by her blog and check it out for yourself. In the meantime, I also made Stephanie's millet flatbread, and thought that with some changes, it could make a great pizza dough recipe. So I'm busy working on that (pizza's on the menu for tonight's dinner), and will be back with the recipe as soon as I'm satisfied with it. I made it last night, and it's good, but it still needs some tweaking. Hopefully tonight I'll get it right!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fruit Roll Ups

Warm weather. Blue skies. Walks in the park. Spring always brings with it a renewed sense of hope, and relief that months of sunshine are ahead of us. My clients come in a little bit happier and much more motivated to eat healthy. Bathing suit season is around the corner, after all. And I'm reminded that summer in NYC is a scorcher, and carrying around extra pounds only adds to the discomfort. So while my clients want to take off the winter weight, I want to take off the bingeing weight. I don't talk about my weight too often on this blog (or maybe I do?) because I want the focus to be on healthy eating, not the number on the scale. But as any binge eater would know all too well, I can gain in a couple of days what it takes a normal eater months to gain. So now it's time to get real with myself, and stop what I'm doing before it gets out of hand. I've been there before...there being at a weight where I don't feel like myself...and I don't want to go there again. Now that it's warmer outside, I've started running again, but I know that, for me, it's not the exercise that makes the difference. It's what I put in my mouth. As I've learned over and over though, I don't do well with restrictions. So there's no way I'm going to tell myself I can't have dessert, can't have cheese, can't have pizza. But as always, I'm looking for a slightly healthier way to have my that I can eat it too.

With that thought in mind, I decided to make a "healthy" dessert. Or at least healthier than the flourless chocolate cake I've been eyeing at Trader Joe's. My inspiration came from the Thai summer rolls I had for dinner last night. If you can put what basically amounts to salad inside a rice wrapper and have it taste delicious, why not just put fruit in there? Why not indeed.

I tried a variety of fillings for these, including diced pears and apples, blueberries, and bananas. The banana filling came out the clear winner. I also tried making some fresh and others baked (as in the photo above). Although the baked roll ups might be good for winter, with the warm weather outside, I found myself appreciating the light taste of the fresh roll ups better. The thing I like best about these rolls, though, is the versatility. You can play around with the ingredients, depending on what you have in the fridge and who's going to eat them. Want something light? Just fill them with bananas and dip them in fat free yogurt. Craving something a bit more decadent? Add some ricotta cheese and chocolate chips to the mix. Or when fruit is ripe in the summer, how about some fresh mango or peaches? Perhaps dipped in whipped cream? With fresh mint sprigs? The possibilities are endless.

There isn't much of a recipe to speak of here. Just two necessary ingredients: rice wrappers and fruit. The rest is up to you. Here are some options for filling and/or dipping:
  • fresh, seasonal fruit, thinly sliced
  • chocolate chips
  • dried coconut
  • ricotta cheese, mascarpone, whipping cream, or yogurt
  • chocolate pudding
Rice wrappers seemed intimidating but were surprisingly easy to use. You simply dip them in a container of lukewarm water for about 30 seconds, and then lay them on a flat surface. Fill the middle with your ingredients, just like you would a burrito, then fold the ends over and the sides in. For the roll ups above, I spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese and apricot jam, a sliced banana, and a couple of chocolate chips. Then I topped it all off with a side of yogurt for dipping. Fast, easy, and even somewhat healthy. Now I can't wait to make these when mangoes are in season!

What's your favorite "healthy" indulgence?

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Basil Mung Bean Salad

First off, I have to thank all of my wonderful readers for being so supportive! Your comments on my last post really made my week! I've been doing much better since then. I even made a chocolate cream pie for a party last night (using my maple cinnamon snickerdoodles as a cookie crumb base), and was able to handle the leftover cookies. Or I should say, I was able to tell my boyfriend that I couldn't handle them and to put them somewhere I wouldn't see them. Whatever works, right? For me, out of sight, out of mind.

I had intended a second post to end the elimination diet, but I realized there wasn't a whole lot more I needed to say. But I didn't want to leave you thinking I didn't learn anything important from it. In case you're dealing with similar issues, here are a few things I've figured out:
  • The headaches and fatigue improved considerably once I began taking vitamin D and a vitamin B complex.
  • Drinking 8-16 oz. of water first thing in the morning also helps with the headaches.
  • I'm definitely sensitive to maple syrup (which is too bad since I love those maple cinnamon snickerdoodles). Almonds might also be a problem, so I'm avoiding those for now, as well as all other nuts until I want to test them. Surprisingly, it doesn't seem to be all sugar that's a problem for me, but specifically maple syrup that gives me headaches. I guess that's a good thing...?
  • And cheese is not the best thing for my stomach. But I didn't need an elimination diet to tell me that. And for now, I still plan on eating it. Just not too often.
Although my elimination diet is officially over, I'm giving you another phase one recipe. My mung bean salad was probably my favorite meal to come out of the elimination diet. Before this, I had never tried mung beans. I wasn't actually sure what they were. But I found Truroots organic sprouted mung beans, and since I thought the price was decent, I bought a bag. I have to tell you, I haven't bothered to try any other brand since. I probably go through a bag a week, and I'm loving them! This recipe can be eaten hot, as a stir-fry, or cold the next day, which is what I usually do. It's my go-to meal for eating in between classes; It's so easy to make, I can whip it up in the morning if I have an extra ten minutes. Although, to be fair, I buy my cabbage and carrots already chopped up from the local fruit and vegetable stand. It would take longer if I had to cut them myself.

Basil Mung Bean Salad
Print-Friendly Option

1 cup mung beans, cooked according to directions on bag
5 cups diced or thinly sliced cabbage and carrots
1 large handful of fresh basil (about a cup), coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 avocado, sliced
sea salt to taste

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium low. Add the carrots and cabbage, and saute about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the mung beans, and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add sea salt to taste.
  4. Stir in the basil and saute another minute.
  5. Take off the stove and add in the sliced avocado.
Serves 4.

I'm trying to decide what type of recipe to make for my next post. I've attempted many failed sugar-free muffin and cookie recipes this week, and am having a great time doing it. But until I feel back to normal with my eating, I should probably lay off the baking a bit. Sugar-free or sugar-full, I eat too many just the same. Spring is finally coming though, which makes me want to eat more fresh fruit. And this month's theme for Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free is guiltless pleasures over at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free. So perhaps a guiltless fruit dessert is in order. Can I come up with one before the end of the month? I can certainly try...

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Elimination Diet Wrap Up, Part 1

I disappeared this last week - into work, into studying for organic chemistry, into occasional bouts of self-pity, and into a baking frenzy. After my success making sugar and dairy free banana muffins, I was determined to try my hand at pumpkin bread. What followed were many nights of baking that have yet to produce a bread good enough to post. Good enough to eat, yes. But would I stake my reputation on any of the recipes? Definitely not. I'll keep trying though. Until...well, until I come up with a great recipe or get really tired of pumpkin. Whichever happens first.

In the meantime, I owe you all a post and a wrap-up of my elimination diet. I've been avoiding writing this because I wasn't sure how much to share. I've seen so many bloggers writing about how wonderful they felt on the elimination diet, and I wanted to be able to write a triumphant final post about everything I've learned and how much better I feel now. Unfortunately I can't exactly do that. While I think the elimination diet is a great idea, and most likely will do a modified version again at some point, there was something I didn't take into account when I started this plan: I'm a former binge eater. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how I've struggled with bingeing for years. And it's taken me years to get to a moderate and healthy place with food. Because I was feeling so good about food before I started the elimination diet, I thought I would handle it fine. The truth is, while I did learn a lot about how my body handles different foods, restricting my eating so much set me up for a major rebound. Perhaps this would not have happened if I were not so stressed, but I also chose a rather silly time to do a major diet overhaul. I'm working, taking classes, and applying to grad school. So of course being the perfectionist that I am, I decide now's the time to start a healthy diet plan that requires even more time in the kitchen. Uh huh... You see where I'm going here, right?

People who binge tend to think in black and white when it comes to food. And for years, that was exactly how I thought. I was either perfect or ate everything in sight. Letting go of bingeing has meant letting go of my idea that I had to eat perfectly all the time. Most of the time I eat healthy, but not all the time. And that's okay. But when I decided to follow the elimination diet, I felt I needed to be perfect. I think that the people around me could see what I couldn't. That in my quest to heal my body, I was only harming it more. I can't stress enough that this had nothing to do with the diet itself, which I still wholeheartedly endorse, but with the way I handled it. In needing to follow it perfectly, I set myself up for a fall, back into bingeing.

When I eventually added everything back in (except for gluten), I found I couldn't control my impulses. Whereas before I had been able to have sweets or cheese in the house without going overboard, I was suddenly incapable of stopping myself. I have to admit to you that for the last week, I've disappeared into bingeing as much as everything else I mentioned. And I haven't completely climbed out of the hole yet. I'm getting there, but it was a shock to find how quickly I went back to a place I haven't really been to in years. At least, not to this extent. The one thing that has saved me from completely disappearing into the hole is the same thing that helped me climb out of it years ago. I used to wallow in guilt when I binged. Which got me absolutely nowhere. Now, when I binge, I don't allow the guilt to linger. There's no point to it. How does it help to feel guilty? It certainly doesn't stop me from bingeing again. Instead, I take the binge as a gift, a learning opportunity. If I can figure out what happened, and why, and how I might handle the situation differently in the future, then I can move on with more confidence. So, this week, although I binged almost every day, I refused to wallow, and instead chose to learn. I had to relearn how important it is for me to eat steadily throughout the day. I had to let go of the desire to cook all my own meals, and buy frozen meals for nights when I was too tired. I had to learn to ask for help, something I've never done with much grace. Mostly, I had to let go of the idea that I can do everything. I can do everything, if I want to end up comatose on the floor.

So what's next? Continuing to reign myself back in and go back to healthy and moderate gluten-free eating. Continuing my quest for a sugar and dairy free pumpkin bread, as well as continuing to learn how to bake healthier in general. Continuing to eat deliciously healthy meals that I learned to cook while on the elimination diet, like the mung bean stir-fry I'll be sharing with you soon. And continuing to explore ways to find a balance with eating healthy and having a healthy relationship with food. Which, as we know, is not necessarily the same thing.


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