Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dairy-Free Apricot Whiskey Ice Cream






































Today's post was supposed to be a meditation, but I realized that recording it when I had a sore throat wasn't the best idea. It sounds like someone trying really hard to sound relaxing but instead just coming across as creepy. I've heard too many of those meditations on youtube to do that to you. And I do have another version but it's the one I made for myself and there's random background noise.  So I'll need to record it again for your listening pleasure. Only the best for you, dearest ones!

Therefore, in the interest of self-care and not driving myself crazy trying to perfect a meditation today, I'm sharing a fun and simple recipe instead. (The meditation will come at some point very soon though!)

Apricot Whiskey Ice Cream. Dairy-Free. Soy-Free. Gluten-Free. Nut-Free. Egg-Free. And a free recipe. Free free free. What more could you ask for? 

An ice cream maker? Yes. If you don't have one, you might want to ask the Summer Santa for one of those.




































Dairy-Free Apricot Whiskey Ice Cream
Rich and creamy, this is half ice cream, half cocktail. Enjoy with your friends on a hot afternoon. Serve over Irish Coffee Brownies for full effect!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 pound ripe apricots, pitted and sliced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
20 drops vanilla stevia or your favorite liquid sweetener to taste
1 13.5 ounce can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
6 tablespoons whiskey

Directions:
  1. Heat a pan on medium/low. Add the coconut oil, then apricots, sea salt and vanilla. Let cook for about 15 minutes, until apricots have cooked down. Take off heat. Add stevia or other sweetener to taste.
  2. Stir in coconut milk. Pour into ice cream maker and follow directions. Add whiskey in the last few minutes. Enjoy!
What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Five Minute Daily Self-Care Scan

This week's theme in the July Self-Care Retreat is Inward Reflection, and as such, I'm going to direct you away from me, away from this blog and the internet, and towards yourself. 



















Today I'm going to teach you my Five Minute Daily Self-Care Scan.

It starts by doing something for me right now. I want you to step away from the glare of your computer and find a comfortable spot to sit for five minutes. You can set your timer if you need to.

I want you to take five minutes. That's it. Five minutes to do absolutely nothing except take care of yourself.

But rather than spending that five minutes focusing on your breath as you might in meditation, I'd like you to sit with the question, What am I feeling right now?

Answer that question in as much detail as you can. Think about the emotions you're feeling, the physical sensations you're feeling, breathe into the complexity of who you are and all the myriad emotions and feelings that come with being a human being. Feeling anger? Where is that anger lodged in your body? Feeling sad? Can you pinpoint where your body feels that sadness? Happiness? Where is that felt? Really explore what's going on in your body and your mind right now.

Then ask yourself another question. What do I need to do to take care of myself right now? Take a deep breath in as you ask yourself this, and as you exhale, give yourself permission to answer honestly. Come up with as many answers as you can think of, normal answers, silly answers, impossible answers. Think like a child with no boundaries. Make yourself laugh.

Out of all your answers, choose one thing that you can do right now to take care of yourself. It can be as simple as giving yourself thirty more seconds to breathe before going back to whatever you were doing. It can mean picking a mantra to carry you throughout your day. It can mean standing up and stretching, putting on a song and dancing, giving yourself permission to cry, taking a walk, giving a loved one a hug, calling someone, making yourself something good to eat... It can mean doing a cartwheel. It's whatever you need right now to take care of yourself. That's all.

Make this a daily practice. The Five Minute Daily Self-Care Scan. Give yourself permission EVERY SINGLE DAY to take care of yourself in whatever way you need to. I know you won't always have an hour to do yoga or the extra money to get a massage, but you can always give yourself five free minutes a day.

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing with you a meditation that I've been promising for a while. A few weeks back, I asked you to leave a comment letting me know what gets in the way of your self-care. What I heard was that time is your biggest obstacle. And so instead of posting one of my longer meditations, I decided post a shorter one for all of us with inflammatory problems (and really, this is everyone because we all experience inflammation at different points). Tomorrow, to continue the week of self-care through inward reflection, I'll be posting my Healing Meditation for Inflammation, a 15 minute meditation that you can do daily.

To learn more about The 2nd Annual July Self-Care Retreat, read my post here. And check out more posts from our other hosts:

      

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Herbed Corn Muffins (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free)



My best friend from college is visiting and some of my favorite memories are of us eating together. That may sound strange, but we lived together and worked at a pizza place together. So we ate a lot of food together. Late nights of white rice and nori. Later nights of pizza, mozzarella sticks and chicken wings. Sugar cookies. Chicken Parm! Oh the food we ate...

Do we look young or what?




















Things aren't exactly the same now. My diet doesn't allow me to go hog wild. But when Cecilia visits, suddenly all I want to do is cook and bake. We had salmon last night over buckwheat pancakes with a side of sauteed brussels sprouts. She requested my curry pot pie, so I'm sure I'll be making that this week. I've also been throwing together a quick curry chicken recipe that I need to write down so I can share with you here. And tonight? I'm not sure what's for dinner yet, but I made my whiskey brownies from The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide Part 2, and we have a plan for sugar-free apricot mint ice cream. I won't eat the brownies, but I cannot wait for ice cream! If it turns out like I'm hoping, I will be sure to share the recipe with you all here!

Trying on dresses for our senior gala, which I will admit to you that I missed because I drank too much and was sick all night long. But I was so sad to miss it that my friends put on their dresses and suits the next night and humored me while I wore my dress again. I learned my lesson and never drank that much again!

And this morning I whipped up a batch of corn muffins. Once again, these weren't for me, but I love baking when I know there's someone sitting there who will happily eat what I make. With fresh rosemary, oregano, and sage from the garden, Cecilia and I decided to go with a twist and make herbed corn muffins. We threw in a little nutmeg for just a hint of contrast and replaced the yogurt from my original corn muffin recipe with honey for a very mild sweetness. Cecilia loved them and I hope you will too.
 




































Herbed Corn Muffins (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free) Print-Friendly Option
Fresh rosemary, oregano and sage blend well with a hint of nutmeg for a savory corn muffin that works well with any meal. They rise beautifully and you would never know they're egg-free! Without gums or other binders, they are a bit crumbly, but are perfect for crumbling into your soup or chili.


Ingredients:
1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour (42 grams)*
1/3 cup sorghum flour (42 grams)
1/3 cup potato starch (52 grams)
1 tablespoon whole psyllium husks
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup cornmeal (160 grams)
8 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup apple juice
1/3 cup honey
2 fresh sage leaves, minced
4 sprigs fresh oregano, minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. 
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the garbanzo bean flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, psyllium husks, baking soda, sea salt, and nutmeg. Whisk in the cornmeal. 
  3. In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil, apple juice and honey on medium-low with a hand blender. Beat in the dry ingredients, then the herbs, continuing on medium-low until the batter is well mixed. 
  4. Scoop the batter evenly into 12 cups, smoothing it down with wet fingertips afterward to create a nice top. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  5. Let cool a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.   
Update: 7/31/12 These become extremely crumbly after freezing. I would recommend only freezing them if you're planning on crumbling them into soup. 
Substitutions:
Flours and starch:
  • The combined flours and starch in this recipe can be replaced with 1 cup of your favorite all-purpose blend. 
  • The garbanzo bean and sorghum flour can be replaced by any of the following: white rice, brown rice, millet, teff, buckwheat, amaranth, or quinoa. I recommend a mix of two rather than just one. If you're using teff and/or buckwheat, the color and flavor will not be as traditional of a corn muffin but I think it would still make a tasty muffin. I'm also pretty sure you could get away with replacing the sorghum or garbanzo bean with 1/3 cup coconut flour as long as you use another grain-based flour for the other 1/3 cup flour. HOWEVER, this is just a theory and I haven't done it yet. 
  • The potato starch can be replaced with tapioca or arrowroot starch.
Whole Psyllium Husks: You should be able to replace that with 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds.
Cornmeal: Try using an equal amount of coarsely ground buckwheat groats. Rather than buying buckwheat flour, buy the whole groats and grind them in your blender or food processor. I haven't tried this but I make a muffin with ground buckwheat groats that tastes very similar to corn muffins in texture.
Coconut oil: Any oil can be used here. Or use butter or a butter substitute, melted.
Apple juice: Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
Honey: Any liquid sweetener. I also used yogurt in my original recipe that I adapted this from. 
Herbs and spices: Have fun! I love the idea of a basil and sun-dried tomato corn muffin. Of course you can also just leave them out for a traditional corn muffin.

This post is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gluten-Free Basic White Cupcakes (Dairy-Free) or Anatomy of a Gluten-Free Wedding Cupcake Testing







































Remember when I said I was done with baking things I couldn't (or shouldn't) eat? I meant it.

But I forgot something.

I had offered and was super excited to be baking the mini-cake and cupcakes for my friend Gina's wedding.

This meant/means lots of baking. And if I'm being honest, testing.

It also means some detoxing is in order.

But first, cupcakes.

Now, you may think that my cupcake decorating and photography skills have blossomed overnight because of that beautiful photo up above. But no, that comes to you courtesy of my friend and housemate, Ashley Ayres. She's the creative mastermind behind the wedding cupcakes. I come up with the cupcake recipes, she makes the cupcakes look beautiful. And takes scrumptious photos too, clearly...

Now, back to my photography, which in my defense, was done as an afterthought when the bride and groom arrived and I realized I should get some pictures.

























I had no intention of sharing these recipes since I was just adapting other recipes for my use. But I realized they were so delicious there was no point in keeping them from you! I made three different cupcakes for the bride and groom to choose from, and while they were just planning on picking one, there were two they really adored. So with that in mind, we decided to make two different cupcakes, one with a lemon-raspberry frosting and the other with a peanut butter and jelly frosting. Today's recipe is for the white cupcakes to go with lemon-raspberry frosting. Of course, you can use any type of frosting you like!

This is a cassava flour recipe from Brittany's and my cookbook, part deux. What I love about cassava is that you don't need to use too many ingredients. What I don't love is that, like coconut flour, it works best with eggs. So this is not a recipe for my fellow egg-free readers, but if you can eat eggs, you will absolutely love this!

Cassava flour comes from the same tuber as tapioca starch, but rather than just the starch, it uses the whole plant. I can tell you from experience that it works quite differently than tapioca starch, but creates similarly light and fluffy results.

























This particular recipe, for a basic white cake, comes from The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guides, Part 2, and was developed by Carter Foss and Mark Hetzel of American Key Food Products and Moon Rabbit Foods. I have made some (simple) adaptations to make this recipe dairy-free. Because I know cassava flour isn't as well known here, I want to give you a reason to give this flour a try. Of course, the very fact that my testers loved it so much should encourage you. But for a little added incentive, I've talked with Mark Hetzel of Moon Rabbit Foods to get you a discount on cassava flour purchases.

All you have to do is:
1. Click here
2. Order cassava flour.
3. Enter the coupon code "moonrabbitfoods" to get 25 percent off the cassava flour!

These cupcakes disappeared quickly. Every time the bride asked the groom's opinion, he would say he needed to taste them all again to decide. I hear he went home and promptly took a food coma nap afterward!

























Basic White Cupcakes (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) (Print-Friendly Option) 
(Adapted from The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide, Part 2)

Ingredients:
1 7/8 cups cassava flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread or Coconut Oil
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup non-dairy yogurt (I used Amande cultured almond milk)
(optional) 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside. 
  3. In a second large bowl, cream together the sugar and Earth Balance until light with an electric beater, a good 5-10 minutes. 
  4. Add the eggs ones at a time, continuing to beat after each addition. 
  5. Add in half of the flour mixture, then half of the yogurt, continuing to blend. Add the rest of the flour, then the rest of the yogurt and blend until completely mixed. Add the lemon zest here as well if using.
  6. Place the batter into 24 lined or greased cupcake tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for a few minutes before turning onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting. 
Makes 24 cupcakes.

Later this month I'll share with you the other winning cupcake recipe, and perhaps some more of Ashley's gorgeous cupcake porn!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Creamy Chicken Avocado Soup and Playing Chutes and Ladders with our Lives






















Hello Friends!

Because July is a month for self-care (and really, shouldn't every month be that way?), I've been thinking a lot about how I can treat myself better. We all know what we should do. Eat our vegetables, get enough sleep every night, exercise, blah blah blah. Yeah, we know. But things get in the way.

Life gets in the way.

We get in our way. 

Oh yeah. I'm calling us out. You. Me. Our big old superegos.

We have all thoroughly mastered the art of masochism. We flagellate ourselves for doing less than everything, for being less than perfect. We push ourselves constantly to do and be more, and then punish ourselves because when we've achieved what we hoped to, we find there is more to be done. And so we tell ourselves we still aren't doing enough. And therefore we aren't good enough.

It just sounds so mean, doesn't it? Like the stepmother and stepsisters in Cinderella, always yelling, "Cinderella, Cinderella!" Except we are our own cruel task masters, and no prince on a white horse is going to save us from our deepest fears. And no fairy godmother, for that matter.

So how do we save ourselves? 

Let's start by playing a little game I like to call Catastrophizing. We all do it subconsciously anyway, so let's just make it conscious.

Here's how it goes:
  1. Pick one thing that is making you feel pushed to your edge. 
  2. Ask yourself what is the worst possible thing that could happen if you didn't accomplish that task or actively decided to let it go. 
  3. Then ask yourself what's the worst possible thing that could happen next. 
  4. And next. 
  5. Continue until you've reached the worst possible thing. Really dig down deep into your inner panic stricken self and make it as bad as you possibly can. Deep down, what is it you truly fear? Face it.
  6. Then do a reality check. Chances are, you're going to realize one of two things. Either the worst possible thing really wouldn't be that bad. Or there's absolutely no way the worst possible thing would happen and you're just freaking out over nothing.  If so, ask yourself what is actually likely to happen if you don't accomplish your task. And allow that to inform your decision.
Once you've played this little game, the next step is to simplify.

If you have determined through this game that you can let that one thing go, great! If not, ask yourself what is the simplest possible way you can accomplish your task. Simple, people, seriously, simple. Do not turn this into an opportunity to prove to yourself and the world that you are superhuman - or Martha Stewart. Instead, use it as practice. Every time you choose the easiest route from A to B, your brain breathes a little sigh of relief and you automatically move forward a step in your own health. If this were Chutes and Ladders, you would climb up a ladder for every time you take care of yourself. For every time you choose to make things more difficult, you're sent down the chute.

The prize at the end of the game?

Your life.

Want an example of how this works? Okay, here we go. This is me talking to myself:

Okay, Iris, so what's the worst possible thing that could happen if you don't get your recipe posted today? 

Well, my readers could all defect, proclaim me to be the laziest blogger ever, and only read the blog of my arch nemesis from now on. Who doesn't actually exist, by the way...

And what's the worst thing that would happen to you if you no longer had any readers?

Well, I suppose I would think I'm a horrible failure and lose all faith in myself and use that as a reason to stop trying to make a success of my new private practice.

And what's the worst thing that would happen if you gave up your dream of being a Women's Wellness Coach and someday owning a retreat center? 


I would hate myself for life, give up on everything, become broke, and be homeless. (Which in actuality would never happen because even if everything here were to be realized, I have amazing friends and family who would help me until I got back on my feet. My deepest fear of being homeless, frankly, is silly.)

I roll my eyes at myself...

(I've shortened this monologue because there are probably a lot more steps in there, but to make things easy...)

Now, simplify. What will actually happen in reality if I don't post a recipe tonight? 

a. Nothing. My readers will continue on with their lives because they have lives and aren't sitting around following my every move. When I manage to put up a post, they'll read it. 

b. I'll feel a little more stressed tomorrow because today's task will now be added on to tomorrow's list. 

Okay, Iris, so rather than letting a post go and then feeling more stressed tomorrow, what is the simplest possible way you can do a post tonight and feel okay about it? 

Answer: I can post the picture of my Creamy Chicken Avocado Soup which is featured on the Easy Eats blog today, share the link to the recipe, and climb up a ladder because I've decided to make things easier on myself. 

Problem solved. Climbing up the ladder!  

p.s. I had no intention of writing any of the above. I was simply going to post the picture, give Easy Eats a shout out, and then peace out. This is what happens sometimes when you take the easy route. You create something that makes you feel good without even trying.

Update: 2/10/14
I've added the actual recipe below because it is no longer available at the Easy Eats link. 

Creamy Chicken Avocado Soup

Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 carrot

1 stalk celery
1 medium sweet potato
1 leek stem
2 medium zucchini
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup hemp milk
½ ripe avocado
Ground pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste 
(Optional) Minced fresh basil for garnish
 

Directions:
1. Pour 5 cups of water into a large soup pot and bring to a gentle boil. Dice the carrot and celery, and add to the pot. Let vegetables cook at a gentle boil for 15 minutes. 

2. While the carrot and celery are cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients. Dice the sweet potato, leeks, and zucchini. Keep each separate, as they’ll be added to the dish at different times. Dice the chicken and set aside. 
3. After 15 minutes, add the sweet potato to the pot and continue to cook for 5 minutes. 
4. Add the chicken to the pot and cook for 15 minutes, continuing at a gentle boil. 
5. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the milk and avocado by pureeing the two until creamy in a blender or food processor. Set aside. 
6. Once the 15 minutes is up, add the leek and zucchini to the pot and cook another 5 minutes. 

7. Remove the pot from the burner. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, or blend in batches until creamy. Stir in the avocado puree, then add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve hot. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gluten-Free Baking 101 Cheat Sheet: Comparing GF Flours

The fireworks are bursting and I'm sitting at home finishing up some work on the blog.

Today was exactly what I needed.

As part of my self-care routine for this month, I have started to go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, and work out in the mornings. I've also been working on some healthy new recipes as part of my focus on self-care through food, and hopefully I'll have some of those posts up soon.

In the meantime, I hope you spent your 4th of July (if you're in the U.S. and had the day off) as I did: relaxing. I did some work on my business this morning, recorded a podcast on gluten-free baking with Brittany Angell, and then gave myself the rest of the day off.

First I went to a friend's house where I got a hypnotherapy session. We've been trading each other sessions, which means at least once a month I get a rejuvenating session to help me clear out any cobwebs.

Next I went home and picked tart cherries off the tree in the backyard. With some added stevia, they make a great jam or pie filling.

I discovered I was the only one home, so I sang at the top of my lungs. Mostly songs from Beauty and the Beast, as I have decided that I should come back as a Broadway star in my next life.

I spent hours in the kitchen playing, and I think I may have discovered a vegan, nut/soy-free recipe for quiche. Since I'm a fan of all things mini, I plan on trying it again in a few days as a mini-quiche with caramelized onions. If I get it just right, you can be sure I'll be sharing the recipe with you here!

And finally? I watched an old episode of Friends. I blogged. And now I'm going to have a snack and go to bed.

I didn't catch up on my e-mails. I didn't get my latest recipe perfected for the blog. I didn't organize my finances. I didn't plan the next six months of my new business or think about all the changes in store for me this year.

I just chilled. 

It was a day well spent. 

So why this post? I wanted to let you know about my new Gluten-Free Baking 101 Cheat Sheet. See that new tab up top? That tab is my personal cheat sheet when I'm trying to decide which flour(s) to use in a recipe. I decided it was just plain mean to keep it to myself, so while I have the original, color-coded copy, you now have your own as well. Sorry, no pretty colors for you though. 

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