Monthly Archives: February 2010

The challenge: gluten-free bread.

Gluten-free bread is tricky stuff. It just so happens that gluten is responsible for much of what is great about good bread, and there is no easy replacement for it. For many gluten-intolerant people, it seems like a good recipe for gluten-free bread is pretty much like the Holy Grail. Many recipes use a combination of rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch, with xantham gum for elasticity, which I believe produces a sort of white bread, but it also has about zero nutritional value. Because gluten provides the elasticity which allows bread to rise, gluten-free bread will be more dense. And when made with flours that are all refined carbs and almost no fibre, the result is doubly unhealthy.

So when I decided I wanted to take a stab at a gluten-free bread for Al (also because the store bought ones are expensive), I knew I should think outside of the box and not try to make something that looked exactly like “real” bread. I wanted to use ingredients with real nutritional value too, avoiding the refined, high glycemic index and nutritionally meaningless wheat replacement to the greatest extent possible. I read earlier today that among the “alternative flours”, quinoa and buckwheat are the most nutritious (the article did not address bean flours such as chickpea flour, which I do believe must have a higher protein content. I love it in pancakes etc, but not quite sure how I feel about it in baked goods).

I figured a quickbread might be a better idea than a yeast-risen one, and I wanted to try to use some sort of vegetable puree to make it moist and not crumbly. And so I came up with this sweet potato quinoa buckwheat bread. It turned out quite a bit denser than I had hoped (I really shouldn’t have been surprised at this…), but otherwise I would classify it as relatively successful! I will definitely try variations over this theme in the future. The bread has that distinctive “buckwheat flavor”, so if you object to that, it may not be for you.

Sweet potato quinoa buckwheat bread

  • 2 dl quinoa flour
  • 1 dl buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 dl tapioca starch
  • 1/4 dl sweet rice flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt (I forgot)
  • 2 tbsp flax meal
  • 6 tbsp water
  • up to 2 dl unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/3 dl oil
  • 2 dl mashed cooked sweet potato

Halve a sweet potato and microwave on high (mine took 3+3 minutes, depends on the wattage).

Mix flax meal and water in a bowl to make “flax eggs”. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Thin out the flax eggs with the milk (start with 1.5 dl). Mix with mashed sweet potato.

Add dry to wet. Add the remaining milk if necessary.

Bake in a loaf pan at 350F for 45 minutes or more, check with a knife for doneness.

Kale chips.

I just ate more than half a bunch of kale. I am still quite surprised with myself! Who knew it could be so addictive, yet so healthy?

So I think this is by far the most satisfying way to eat kale, a dark green which is also nice sauteed and in soups.

Kale chips.

  • Clean the kale well (I used curly kale of some sort).
  • Dry off as best you can (a salad spinner would be ideal).
  • Cut out the tough stems and cut it in bitesize pieces.
  • Rub it all with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
  • Spread it out in a single layer on a baking tray, and bake for 15 minutes or so at 300F.
  • Turn over with tongs and bake maybe 5 more minutes.
  • Keep an eye on them — you want them crispy, but take them out as they start to brown.
  • Toss with salt, and enjoy!

Healthy snacks.

I am not really feeling like making muffins lately, seeing as only I can eat them. I haven’t quite figured out how to make good gluten-free ones yet. So I have been thinking about things I could make that are naturally gluten free, and I was inspired by Linux Café down the street which serves up “quinoa cups” which are both vegan and gluten free. They are a mix of quinoa and seeds and dried fruit that look like they are baked in muffin liners.

I didn’t know how they made them, but my first attempt turned out OK. I can’t really provide recipes because I have just been making it up as I have been going along, but I will try to formalize this eventually.

I just cooked quinoa and mixed with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds and raisins, and made a wet mixture from brown rice syrup, apple sauce, cinnamon and ginger. I baked them for about 30 mins at 350F. Because the quinoa was kind of wet, they turned out soggy in the middle, but very tasty.

For my second attempt, I have tried to dry out the cooked quinoa at a low temperature in the oven, and toasted the other seeds in a pan. I made a chocolate mixture from brown rice syrup, cocoa and chocolate, and just mixed it up and chilled it. Let’s see!

Successful gluten-free cookies!

These awesome tahini quinoa cookies were crunchy and tasty, and no one would guess that they cater to basically every allergy except sesame… I came across them looking for recipes to use with my recently purchased quinoa flakes (kind of like rolled oats, just made from quinoa — available in well stocked health food stores).

I made them with brown rice syrup instead of honey (less sweet, and somewhat cheaper here anyway), and I halved the recipe (First, I was almost out of tahini, and  second, we’re only two people — I felt uncomfortable about using 1/2 cup of margarine in a recipe…) Skipped the vanilla.

The only thing that went wrong was that I put them too close to each other on the baking sheet and they connected during cooking. I took a knife and separated them right after taking them out, while they were still soft, so the only evidence of my mishap is their somewhat angular shape…

Highly recommended — yum!

Vegan, gluten free blueberry clafoutis.

I can’t really provide a recipe here, because I used leftover tofu (no idea how much, about 2/3 of one of those “tubes”) and then just eyeballed everything.

But anyway, the “custard” is made from silken tofu, soy milk, sugar, tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, a little bit of chickpea flour, baking soda, vanilla and cinnamon. I then sprinkled the blueberries on top and baked it at 350C for about 35 minutes. It’s very custardy in the middle.

The impetus for both this and the blueberry spelt muffins was the fact that our local veggie stand sold two large things of blueberries for $6, which is, I think, about half the usual price. I must say, though, that these North American blueberries leave something to be desired. The wild, small ones that we get at home are so much bluer and more flavorful..

Bentos from the past week.

Here are two bentos from the past week, one rather more elaborate than the other.

The left compartment has a blueberry spelt muffin, a chunk of comté cheese, and strawberries.

The right compartment has brown rice with gomashio, carrots, and baba ghanouj. I dipped the carrots in the baba ghanouj and it was not bad at all.

This second bento is rather more basic. I rarely make sandwiches for my bento, but for once I figured why not. I had some nice 3-grain pumpernickel bread lying around, so I made little sandwiches with that and some hummus. There is also a blueberry muffin and some carrots and strawberries.

This is rather more on the starchy, bread-y side than usual, but at least it is all whole grain. In fact, it’s probably not much different from when I put rice and a muffin…

Blueberry muffins.

I used to bake muffins basically every week in Norway. I made lots of successful flavor combinations, as my blog archive will attest to. Lately I haven’t been nearly so industrious or creative. I tried to make a gluten free version of these carrot muffins/cupcakes recently, and while they turned out OK, I really don’t think I will ever produce truly delectable gluten free muffins… (I substituted the flour with a mix of chickpea flour, tapioca starch and sweet rice flour, and used chia gel in lieu of the “flax egg”).

So I have given in and made straight up muffins with gluten in them.. Which means only I can eat them — this is dangerous! The basic recipe is mostly the same as this one, but with some substitutions.

Blueberry spelt muffins

  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp whole wheat spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup granola of your choice (I had run out of oats and did not have wheat bran, so I used some of my home made granola, avoiding the raisins)
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 heaped cup soy yogurt
  • 1/8 cup canola oil (I ran out — would have put 1/4 cup — but this turned out to be sufficient)
  • 1 cup blueberries

Mix the dry ingredients. Make a “hole” in the middle of the flour mix. Carefully add the wet ingredients to the hole. Then, carefully blend the wet ingredients together before mixing with the flour. Fold in blueberries. Bake at 350C for about 20 minutes. They turn out moist and tender and lovely.