Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gluten-Free, Vegan Birthday Cake!



For years now, I have been experiencing this random craving for cake. Normally I crave cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, or homemade pies. But every once in a while, I really want cake. This craving would come upon me suddenly, and I would walk my neighborhood searching for the perfect slice of cake. Not just any cake, but a moist cake with just the right frosting and just the right flavor. Every time I bought a slice, I ended up disappointed. I didn't know what I was looking for exactly. I just knew I wasn't finding it. Since I've been gluten-free, those days of wandering have gone away. Ever tried aimlessly searching the streets looking for the perfect slice of gluten-free cake? Right. Now if I have a craving, I have to search the internet to see if there are any gluten-free bakeries near me. Or even better (and much more cost effective), I can just make it myself. Of course, when it comes to gluten-free baking, I have as many flops as I do successes. Especially now since I am also eating dairy-free. And often refined sugar-free. And nut free. And coconut free. And...you get the point, right? And as this was my birthday, I didn't want to experiment with my own recipe and risk a failed cake.

This is why, in my last post, I asked for suggestions on the perfect birthday cake. I got many wonderful ideas, and now have a list of recipes I want to try. However, my friend Ari made a great recommendation of a gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free chocolate cake from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. Ali and Tom's recipes have been inspiring me for months (you can read about my experiences on their elimination diet here), and I am now even more excited to unearth their cookbook which I packed up for my move. I have to admit that I am one of those people who loves cookbooks, but rarely actually tries any recipes from them. Well, after baking this chocolate cake, I will not be making that mistake with Ali and Tom's recipes! If they are anything like the cake, I can't go wrong!



Let me tell you a little about this amazing vegan chocolate cake. First of all, it did something I wasn't actually expecting. It satisfied my craving. Next time I find myself needing to have the perfect bite of cake, I'll know what to make. No more aimless wandering for me! This cake is sweetened with agave nectar, maple syrup, and prunes, which my mom reminded me of when I felt guilty for having a piece after breakfast this morning. "It's a healthy cake," she told me. Well, healthier at least. The prunes also give it a delightfully moist texture that held up on day two. I was a bit afraid it would get dry the next day, but I actually liked it even better after it chilled in the fridge overnight. The frosting called for a cup of maple syrup but I only used half of that, and it was still sweet enough. Instead of beet juice to color it, I added a few chopped strawberries while mixing, but otherwise I followed the directions. And it did call for coconut oil, which was on my "avoid" list. But I just replaced that with canola oil, and it was fine. 

Will I be making this cake again? Oh yeah! But only if, like on this birthday, I have a lot of people to share it with. It was gone in two days, but there were eight of us eating it. I would hate to make it for myself and see it also be gone in two days...without anyone else's help! Believe me...I liked it enough that I could see that happening. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Video And A Birthday Request

My dearest readers,

My birthday is on Monday. I'm turning 28 on the 28th. Last year was the best birthday I've had since I was little, when my mom used to bake my birthday cakes. This year will be different, since it will be my first birthday out of New York City in five years! I'm still adjusting to the move (and I've appreciated all your comments and support), and am just beginning to feel like a normal person again. However, living at home with your parents can feel a bit like being in a time warp. Some days I wake up and wonder if New York was just a dream. But at 28 (almost), I am definitely not the same person I was the last time I lived here. And as my friend pointed out, "You wouldn't be where you are without NYC...a tiny piece of it is in everything you do."

Since I've been home, I've been having a green smoothie or vegetable juice every day. My parents get local vegetables from their food coop every Monday, and I love having an abundance of fresh veggies to cook with. While being home has often triggered my binge eating in the past (which I know from my clients is pretty common), this time it seems to have calmed my need to overeat. Instead I've been listening to my body and giving it what it wants (apparently a lot of vegetables). The result is finally losing those pounds I gained months ago. (Well, most of them; I've still got a few to go.) My headaches, while not gone, are at a much lower level than they've been in months. And on Tuesday, thanks to my mom, I'll be starting acupuncture to see if I can get them to go away completely. My goal for this summer was to heal my body (or at least begin to) before moving to Seattle, and while I have a long way to go, I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere. 

As for my birthday? I convinced my parents we should go to P.F. Chang's to eat from their gluten-free menu with my grandma tomorrow. It's a bit of a drive, but I think it's worth it. I went there for the first time a few months back, and I loved it! No plans for Monday, but I'm thinking this birthday just wouldn't be complete without a real birthday cake. Last year I got to try Babycakes cupcakes for the first time. But this year, I'd love to make a fabulous gluten-free, dairy-free birthday cake. Because my immune/digestive system seems to have gone whacky this past year, I also need it to be nut and coconut free. Maybe I'll just call it a "Free Cake." So that's where you come in. If you know of a great gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, coconut-free cake recipe, can you pass it along? And if you simply have a cake recipe that you love, gluten-free or not, and you think it's worthy of being adapted, pass that along too. Maybe it will be my next baking project. I could look this up on the internet of course, but I always learn more from you, my dear readers, than I do from google.

xoxo
Iris


P.s. I'm leaving you with an entertaining parody of a Lady Gaga song. It has nothing to do with food, but was a great way to start my day. If you need a laugh, definitely watch this. My sister and her husband both work at High Tech High in San Diego, and the staff there made this video. Watch for my sister. She's the Madonna look-alike.

Somehow I don't think this is what my high school teachers did when the kids went home.




High Tech High Music Video

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rhubarb Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)


I've been debating whether I should post this recipe. Not because it wasn't good, because it was definitely gone in two days. But because I wanted to come up with a refined sugar-free version, and have not managed to do so yet. The second time I made the recipe, I used honey, but I forgot a key ingredient: applesauce. It came out feeling like lead. Of course, I ate it because I'll eat anything. But I don't think my parents ventured back for seconds. I haven't had time to attempt a third try yet.

I'm going to consider this rhubarb cake a work in progress. I would definitely make it again, but if I come up with a refined sugar-free one, I'll post that as well. Nonetheless, this version was delicious, and since it's dairy-free (and I've been dairy-free for over two weeks now), I decided to submit it for this month's Go Ahead Honey It's Gluten-Free! The theme for June is dairy-free delights, and it's being hosted by Z's Cup of Tea. Zoe's blog is relatively new to me, but I can see why it's so popular. If you stop by to check out the Go Ahead Honey roundup, I know you'll end up staying to see all of Zoe's delicious recipes.


Rhubarb Cake
Print-Friendly Option

Ingredients:
2 cups of Carol's Muffin and Quick Bread Mix (recipe below)
1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup soy milk (or your favorite non-dairy alternative)
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup diced rhubarb
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Stir the oats and flour mix together in a large bowl. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, then whisk in the milk, applesauce, and vanilla extract. 
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until mixed. Fold in the rhubarb. 
  5. Pour cake into a 9 in. greased cake pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
Serves 8 

I used the leftover rhubarb to make a sauce to spread on the cake. It's best eaten fresh that day. If the cake is for another day, a more traditional frosting might work better, although I think it would also taste fine without any frosting.


Rhubarb Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup rhubarb
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. water
1 Tbsp. soy milk 

Directions:
  1. In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil. 
  2. Lower temperature and simmer uncovered for 8 minutes, until rhubarb is soft. 
  3. Whisk in soy milk. 
  4. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then puree in food processor
Carol's Muffin and Quick Bread Mix from Gluten-Free Quick & Easy
This is a great all-purpose flour for making cakes, muffins, or quick breads. You can make a bunch and store it for whenever you want to make a quick and easy treat.

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour 
1 1/2 cups cane sugar 
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons xantham gum
2 teaspoons table salt

This recipe is linked to Seasonal Sundays. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Takeout For One: Sweet Sesame Noodles


I've only had Chinese food once since beginning to eat gluten-free. Aside from an amazing meal at PF Chang's, I've been missing a lot of my favorite takeout dishes. Broccoli with garlic sauce. Shrimp lo mein. Sesame noodles.  I'm not confident enough with my gluten-free restaurant skills to attempt a meal at a restaurant where soy sauce is in so many dishes. But I am confident in my ability to pull together a dish that has all of the elements I'm missing while being gluten-free and healthy too.

Who needs Chinese takeout when you can make your own sesame noodles at home in less time than it takes to wait for delivery? This is an extremely simple recipe. Aside from cooking the noodles and baking the sweet potato, it takes less than five minutes to throw together. Add in some tofu and steamed veggies, and you've got a delicious dinner in under thirty minutes. Rachael Ray would be proud.


Sweet Sesame Noodles
Print-Friendly Option


Ingredients:
1 serving of your favorite gluten-free pasta, cooked according to directions
1/2 baked medium sweet potato, mashed
1 Tbsp. sunflower butter (alternative: peanut butter)
1 tsp. wheat-free tamari
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. chopped scallions
2-4 Tbsp. water
sesame seeds for garnish


Directions:
  1. Whisk together the sweet potato, sunflower butter, tamari, sesame oil, scallions, and enough water to reach your desired consistency. I like 3 tbsp. of water, but you can use more or less depending on how thick you want the sauce to be. 
  2. Spoon over your noodles and stir to coat them evenly. You can let the noodles cool first or eat them warm. Again, your preference. 
  3. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for a garnish.
Serves 1  

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger May Roundup

Welcome to May's Roundup of Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger, the monthly event that encourages us all to get to know each other a little better and try out those recipes we're constantly bookmarking! I was excited by how many bloggers got involved this month, and I'm happy to share with you all the mouthwatering photos. Sea at Book of Yum is the mastermind behind Adopt A Gluten Free Blogger, so if you're interested in joining in next month, you can see the guidelines here, and if you ever want to host, don't hesitate to ask her!

Now onto the food!

We start with a summery salad from Heather at Celiac Family. Heather adopted Nancy at The Sensitive Pantry and made her Tropical Black Bean Salad just in time for the warm weather. For everyone looking for a healthy idea for a potluck, this looks like a winner to me!

Nancy's Recipe: Tropical Black Bean Salad


Next, I adopted Amy of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free and made her Saffron Tomato Sauce. Is there anyone who doesn't love Amy? All of her recipes are free of gluten and refined sugars, and she gladly shares her years of cooking and baking expertise with the rest of us. Plus, she's the genius behind Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, a weekly carnival where we can all share our recipes made healthier. Check out my post on Amy's delicious tomato sauce here.

Amy's recipe: Saffron Tomato Sauce
Now, apparently shrimp was a theme last month because we had three bloggers adopting shrimp recipes! First, Shirley of Gluten-Free Easily made Melanie's Avocado Salsa from Gluten Free Krums. The original recipe didn't call for shrimp, but noting that shrimp makes everything better (I agree!), Shirley added some in. Looks like a delicious appetizer or a light and healthy dinner! Stop by Shirley's blog to check it out, and while you're at it, check out her weekly updates to find out what else is going on in the gluten-free blogosphere.

Melanie's recipe: Avocado Salsa

Our second shrimp dish was from Tinsley at Celiebo. Tinsley is also the NY Gluten-Free Examiner, and you can see her article on Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger here. Her post was especially fun for me because Tinsley has a video blog, so I got to watch her make Gluten-Free Beer-Battered Coconut Shrimp, courtesy of Kim at Cook It Allergy Free. Tinsley was a "new to me" blogger (vlogger?), and I'm happy she joined us this month so I could find her! Her video blog is fun and informative and I plan on visiting it regularly for new gluten-free ideas!

Kim's recipe: Gluten-Free Beer-Battered Coconut Shrimp

Last but not least in the shrimp category, we have Ariana of The Frugally Rich Life. Ari didn't know what Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger was, but when we were chatting last night, I realized she had already adopted Ali and Tom of The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. I suggested she join in on the roundup, and I'm glad she did. These Thai Coconut Fish Sticks (okay, not exactly shrimp, but close) look amazing, and I already want to run out and buy some fish so I can make them! (As a little sidenote, I'm very excited to be going to Bastyr, the same school that both Tom and Ali went to!)

Ali & Tom's recipe: Thai Coconut Fish Sticks


Does anyone else find that the warmer it is out, the more they want to eat soup? I've always loved soup in the summer. Mary at Writer's Blog has been making Karina, The Gluten Free Goddess's recipes for a long time now. Here we have her Curried Carrot Soup with Pan Toasted Cornbread Croutons. It looks delicious, but don't take my word for it! Stop by Mary's blog to see her post which also includes more photos of Karina's recipes!


Karina's recipe: Curried Carrot Soup with Pan Toasted Cornbread Croutons




Linda, my favorite Gluten-Free Homemaker also made a comforting soup with Alta's Brazilian Style Fish Stew from Tasty Eats At Home. It's dairy-free as well, so for those of you looking for dairy-free recipes, look no further! Apparently her husband wasn't that excited by the idea of a fish soup, but the second he tried it, he changed his mind!

Alta's recipe: Brazilian Style Fish Stew




Before we move on to desserts, Selene at Veganlicious made a whole dinner party out of her Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger recipes! I first discovered Selene because she makes amazing raw desserts! In fact, it was looking at her recipes that first inspired my Raw Pumpkin Cheese Pie. Selene had some guests this week, so she made Green Soup, Pad Thai, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream, all from Lisa at Raw On $10 A Day. Wow! Don't you wish you were at that party?

Lisa's recipes: Green Soup, Pad Thai, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

And now it's dessert time! Hope you have room!

Alea at Gluten-Free Flavor Full adopted Aubree Cherie of Living Free and made her Sweet Peanut Butter Treats. Yum! I've been following along with Alea at her blog, Premeditated Leftovers, for a while, but for those of you who don't know, she now has her own blog solely dedicated to gluten-free goodies!

Aubree Cherie's recipe: Sweet Peanut Butter Treats



Maggie at She Let Them Eat Cake made two recipes from Lexie's Kitchen. Once again, here's a blog I didn't know about and now I'm really glad I do! Thanks Maggie, for sharing Lexie's delicious recipes with us! Here we have Cocoa Bean Cookie Truffles and Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Pancakes. Maggie bakes for her husband who has Celiac Disease, and I think he's one lucky guy to have her making such delicious treats for him!


Lexie's recipes: Cocoa Bean Cookie Truffles and Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Pancakes



Valerie of City|Life|Eats is one of my new blogging friends. We both share a love for Brooklyn and a need to eat gluten-free. Her recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, and often vegan. Not surprisingly, she's a fan of Kim at Affairs of Living. Kim knows how to make anything taste amazing, no matter what food restrictions she's working with. Valerie tested out her Dairy-Free Black Bean Fudge. Wouldn't you love a bite of that right now?

Kim's recipe: Dairy-Free Black Bean Fudge

Saxifrage at Sweet Sensitivity made Rainy Day Chocolate Chip Cookies from Stephanie at Hope For Healing. Sax just started blogging in April, but I'm already addicted to reading her posts. We have a strange amount in comment, including the fact that she began her blog only two days after The Daily Dietribe's one year anniversary, and her first blogger adoption was the same as mine. Back in March, I adopted Stephanie also and made her Rainy Day Tomato Soup! Saxifrage is also going to be my new roommate at Bastyr, so I have a feeling we'll be making a lot of gluten and dairy-free goodies together!

Stephanie's recipe: Rainy Day Chocolate Chip Cookies

And finally, we have Thomas of The GFCF Experience. I actually discovered Thomas through Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger, since he often participates and has also hosted. I was so excited that he chose to make my Hint O' Chocolate Banana Muffins, although I have to admit that I get nervous every time someone tries one of my recipes! Thanks Thomas for giving them a try!

My recipe: Hint O' Chocolate Banana Muffins


And that's it! Thanks again Sea, for letting me host! I'm already contemplating who I want to adopt next!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The End Of An Era


 
I quit my job. 

I moved to Massachusetts to live with my parents for the summer. 

I'm moving to Seattle in September to start grad school at Bastyr University

I just started an online biochemistry course and it scares me. 
More than organic chemistry did.

I moved out of Brooklyn, the only place that has ever felt truly right to me. 
But which has been feeling wrong for a long time.

I miss it. 
And Seattle seems suddenly very far away.

But I'm ready.

I've been trying for weeks to tell you my news.
My exciting news, which means very little to you...
but which has made my world seem topsy turvy.
I can't seem to steady my feet under me.
So today I won't try to write a perfect blog post.
I'll just spit it out.
I moved. I'm moving again soon. 
Life is changing. 
It's the end of an era.

And now it's time to get back to what grounds me in the here and now.
It's time to get back to the kitchen.
Who knows what I'll come up with.
A lot of gluten-free flops I'm sure.
And a few successes sprinkled in there.
My life will keep changing.
And I'll keep cooking.
And I hope you'll continue to come along for the journey.




Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Adopt A Gluten Free Blogger: Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

Do you remember me promising you a tuna recipe a few weeks back? It's been a while, so more than likely you've forgotten...but I didn't. Today I'm guest blogging at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang and I'll be sharing my tuna burger with you over there. We're nearing the end of Diane's 30 Day Food Revolution, so stop by to see my post and find out what it's all about! And here, I'm sharing with you another healthy recipe...but this one's not mine. Amy just posted her tips on eating healthy for Day 26 of The Food Revolution, so I decided to make one of her meals to help me stay healthy this week.


I had hoped to have this post up by the end of May, but here it is June already and I'm only just now posting about my fabulous meal a la Amy. For those of you who don't know Amy, she is the mastermind of the delicious blog, Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. Amy started blogging around the same time I did last year, but she's been gluten and refined sugar free for six years now. Although Amy has many mouthwatering dessert recipes, I wanted to follow in her healthy footsteps and make a light dinner to keep me on track. I chose her saffron tomato sauce with chicken not just because it looked so tempting, but because it also looked easy. And after a long week, easy was exactly what I needed. Finding a good recipe is one thing. Finding a good recipe that's also healthy and a cinch to make is much more difficult. And the best thing about this meal, of course, was that it tasted amazing and continued to taste great the next day and the next. Thank you, leftovers! And thank you, Amy, for helping me find a healthy chicken recipe that I'll be making over and over.


Amy's Saffron Tomato Sauce

It's Day 27 at 30 Day's to a Food Revolution! And 27's my lucky number! Check it out!

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