Monday, November 30, 2009

Gluten Free/Grain Free, Dairy Free Cranberry Parfait

For this month's 'Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free Challenge' (hosted by Elana of Elana's Pantry) I decided to accept the challenge to make a grain free dessert and decided to make something quite different than anything i've done before... but then after making it, I realized that the challenge was grain free cakes and cupcakes! Oh well... still enjoyed making it :)

I've always loved creamy foods, and without dairy, that's kind of challenging. So with this dessert I decided to take that challenge and was quite happy with the results!

This parfait took only about 20 minutes to make and tastes fantastic... it's creamy, a touch of tartness and pretty rich.

Grain and Dairy Free Cranberry Parfait


3/4 cup raw cashews soaked in boiling water
1/3 cup coconut cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg


1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
2 tsp honey or maple syrup

Soak your cashews in boiling water in a covered container as you begin to prepare the cranberry mixture.

Place the cranberries, pineapple, and honey in a blender and puree until well blended.
Pour the cranberry puree into another container and rinse out your blender.

Add all of the cashew cream ingredients the blender and blend until creamy.

Layer your parfait in glasses according to your preference- the cashew cream is strong, so you might want thinner layers than I have in my picture. Eat immediately or place in the refrigerator to chill and firm.

*note- I have a regular old blender, not the Vita-Mixthat I pine over, so it is definitely possible to get a smooth cream from the cashews :)

Enjoy! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gluten Free Mango Upside-Down Cake

I have had this recipe bouncing around in my head for quite some time, and was going to make it for the 'Go Ahead Honey' theme of fruit desserts but was too busy to experiment. Anyways, I finally made this the other day and it turned out well. Of course the cake is gluten, dairy, and soy free, and uses sucanat and some agave to sweeten.

I liked the way it turned out- kind of dense and the fruit tasted great, but I think what I might do next time is to either put another layer of fruit in the middle, make 2 8" rounds, or one larger tin with a smaller cake. My reason for those options is that then you get more fruit along with each bite. Any of those or the way I made this one is fine, it just depends how much cake to fruit ratio you're looking for :)

One side note- I made this using Vance's Dari Free powder instead of a milk sub. I love this stuff. It's great if you don't feel like opening a new container of rice milk, almond milk, etc., and smells and tastes great. And i don't even like the taste of milk. So you're welcome to use this, or a little milk/milk sub if that's what you're into. The other thing I might change in the future is to use some almond meal as well, because it think the nutty flavor will go well with it. Or coconut flour.

Mango Upside-Down Cake
(gluten, soy, dairy free)

1.5 cups frozen (or fresh) mangoes (I used the frozen ones from Trade Joe's)
1/2 cup Sorghum flour
3/4 cup Millet flour
1/4 cup Tapioca starch
1.5 tsp Xantham gum
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1Tbsp Vance's DariFree Powder
1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
3 organic Eggs
1.5 tsp Vanilla
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup juice (I used Trader Joe's Orange Peach Mango Juice)
1/4 cup Organic Agave Nectar
1/2 cup Organic Sucanat+ 2 tsp for the bottom of the pan

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
-Grease 8" round pan (I used canola spray)
- Sprinkle the 2 tsp of Sucanat across the bottom of the pan.
-Slice the mango into small chunks and lay out across the pan without disturbing the sucanat too much. Set aside.

-Combine all of your dry ingredients (minus the sucanat) in a small bowl and set aside.
- In your mixer bowl beat all of the liquid ingredients for a few minutes until well blended. Add the sucanat into the liquid ingredients and mix another minute.
-Add the dry ingredients to the went and blend until well incorporated. The batter should be somewhat thick.
-Gently pour the batter over the fruit in the pan without moving the fruit around too much.
-Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven (mine is a little crazy right now). When a toothpick comes out clean, it's done.
-Flip onto a cooling rack and enjoy! Pin It Now!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

not gone!!

i know it's been a while, but hey- i've been busy :)

hopefully more updates in the next few weeks. Pin It Now!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Throwing a Green Dinner Party

Now that spring is here, it’s time to start thinking about warm weather activities with friends and families. One of the most popular things to do once the temperature goes up is to host a delicious dinner party filled with food and décor that are inspired by the colors of the season and the fresh flavors that remind us of spring. To make things a bit more creative, consider planning your dinner around a theme to make the color scheme, table décor, and menu options tie in nicely together. A popular design idea for 2009 has been to go green by investing in eco-friendly product alternatives from the food we serve to our guests to the furniture we place in our home. With that being said, whip out your dinnerware collection and get started on your green dinner party today!

A dinner party wouldn’t be the same without invited guests but we want to stay away from sending out a pile of printed invitations and envelopes in the mail in order to reduce paper waste. It’s time to take advantage of the internet and send out personalized invitations via email to get an idea of the number of people that can attend your eco-friendly event. Next, consider making a conscious effort to be kind to the environment and plan your menu around locally grown ingredients such as fresh greens for your salad, or wild berries for dessert. Incorporate nature into your table décor by using organic materials for centerpieces or to decorate place settings. This is a great opportunity to include a fresh bouquet of flowers grouped together in a clear vase to create the perfect spring accent for your dinner party.

According to Planet Green, it’s a good idea to consider sticking with a vegetarian menu or one that includes sustainable seafood options instead of meat. Meat production has made a significant impact on climate change and the large amount of water that goes into producing even a pound of beef will leave you speechless. If you’re committed to throwing a green dinner party, stay true to the rules and apply the same green mentality to your dinner party menu. As mentioned above, purchasing locally grown ingredients will put you in the right direction as you are supporting your environment and you know exactly where your meals are coming from.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Easy Truffles - Go Ahead Honey February

february is a big month of celebration for us, with birthdays, valentine's, and Ayyam-i-Ha, and as such, involves just a bit of dessert :) for this month's 'go ahead honey' i decided to make something simple, healthy, and tasty for my sweet for valentine's. i was thinking about making truffles a few months ago and never got around to it, so i dove in for this month's theme of 'sweets for your sweetheart' hosted by kelly at the spunky coconut.

i must say, the recipe is really simple, but can be played around with. i just put what i was in the mood for since it was my first time experimenting with them. i've added in the end a couple of additions you may want to add to yours if you decide to make them. and by the way, i made these in about ten minutes, so it's not very time consuming!

Easy Chocolate Covered Truffles

3 Medjool Dates
2 Tbsp Chocolate Chips (I used Enjoy Life Foods Chocolate Chips) or your favorite chocolate
2 Tbsp Artisana Organic Raw Coconut Butter
1/3 cup Cashews
1 tsp Cocoa Powder (I used Green & Black's) - optional
2 drops clear Stevia


Melt the chocolate chips and coconut butter together on low in a small saucepan.
While they are melting, add the cashews and dates into a food processor and pulse until they are completely cumbled and stick together. Mix in the cocoa powder and stevia if you're using.
Take out a teaspoon at a time of the mixture and press to form a ball. It should easily stick together.
Gently roll your balls in the chocolate mixture and place on wax paper. Refrigerate until they are cool and firm- it shouldn't take too long. Enjoy!

Other optional additions: add a 1/4 tsp vanilla, some chili powder, raw cacao nibs, or other nuts for fun. You could also sprinkle some pistachios, coconut, or other nuts on top of the wet chocolate.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Khoresh-e-Fesenjan - Persian Pomegranate Stew (Go Ahead Honey it's GF!)

**edited 12/28/09
[according to my google analytics page, this is my most popular recipe, and is searched for all over the world. so- i've decided to update it a bit with new pictures and tips and to submit it for January's Go Ahead Honey it's Gluten Free! theme of "Stews from Around the World." hope you enjoy!]

to continue my posting on 'food from my childhood' and things that remind me of home, i decided to post probably my favorite dish from childhood up until today- a persian stew made with pomegranate paste, called khoresh-e-fesenjan, or simply, fesenjan. i really must say, it is definitely not the most appetizing thing to look at, but the flavor is where it's at... a rich, hearty, and healthy stew; it is generally served over rice, but i don't see why it can't be over a potato or quinoa (i've had it over quinoa a number of times) or something like that. alone it's a bit strong and acidic, so would be a bit much to eat totally alone, but of course it's up to you.

the actual preparation is quite simple, but the flavor will really depend on your pomegranate paste. i have used a combination of pomegranate pastes (also called molasses). when using the Sadaf or Asmar brands (produced in Lebanon), I produced a lighter brown color. I prefer the combination of different pastes, with Cortas being my favorite because they can definitely differ in flavor. Cortas is more tart than others like Asmar's, so adjust the sweetness according to your taste. I also like the Golchin brand as well. In the pictures below I used a combination of Cortas and Asmar's (my favorite combo) which gave it the deep chocolate brown color and nice texture. note my "other options" at the end of the recipe- you can make it vegetarian and play around with the recipe a bit to your liking.

one other note- i use grated butternut squash in this recipe. my mom started adding it in for a couple of reasons- it's healthier, a natural sweetener, and it helps thicken the stew while it cooks. you don't really taste it at all, and it kind of melts away while it cooks. i love adding it in. i've also added in fresh baby spinach leaves as well on occasion for another vegetable option that also does not change the flavor.

Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew

2 pounds chicken breast, cubed
1 Tbsp + 1.5 Tbsp grapeseed or other mild flavored oil
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 onions, chopped
1.5 cups walnuts
, finely ground (measure before grinding)
3/4 cup pomegranate paste
2 cups chicken broth and/or water
1 cup grated or shredded butternut squash
2 Tbsp honey, coconut nectar, or coconut sugar to taste**


-Brown your chicken in 1 Tbsp oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper,
and some oregano. These spices are different than the ones listed above.
-Set chicken aside and heat the remaining oil in the same pot.
-Add chopped onions and sauté until soft.
-Add ground walnuts and continue mixing until light brown.
-Add pomegranate paste and let simmer a few minutes.
-Add your broth or water, the spices, and the butternut. Bring
to simmer.
-Stir the chicken back in, bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for an hour or so. Taste and season again if needed, and add agave if too sour.

**depending on the sweetness of your pom paste, you might want to add a sweetener. i ended up adding 2 Tbsp to mine because it was pretty sour, but we still like it fairly tart. you should adjust it to your preferred flavor.

a few other options-

Meat: i use chicken breast in my fesenjan. you can use a whole chicken chopped up, or just your favorite parts. many persians like to make small meatballs, brown them and then add them in.

Vegetarian: you can take the meat out and instead add some fried eggplant in- the flavor is great. another veggie options is to instead of grated butternut, add cubed butternut squash, brown them, and add where it says to add the meat.

Nuts: walnuts are traditional, but you can always try mixing walnuts, cashews, almonds, etc. for a different type of flavor if you want.

The pictures below demonstrate the difference between pomegranate pastes:
the 1st was cooked with only Sadaf brand, and the second with the Cortas and Asmar combination.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

More GF Travels - The GF Cruise

it's been a crazy crazy month that has gone by quickly without blogging! following a series of family illnesses, running around, and a lovely week of vacation, i'm finally ready to catch up on a few posts i've had sitting around.

but first about that vacation... :) we took a three day cruise with royal caribbean recently, and it was our first cruise experience. i wasn't sure what the food situation was going to be, but i checked on their website and was pleased to find they had email addresses for those with Celiac and food allergies. although i can't use them, they also noted that they provide lactaid milk and soy milk if you request it.

so anyways, i am happy to say that they did a fantastic job of catering to my multiple food intolerance requests. by the end i realized a number of things i could have done to make it easier for myself, so i'm going to give my recs below.

but here is what they did do-- at each meal they provided me with three slices of GF bread. this was a surprise. they said they bake it each day, but it was a bit cold when they brought it out. i actually don't eat a lot of bread, but i felt guilty not eating it because they were so happy to provide it :)

our waiter in the main dining room AND the head waiter would come numerous times throughout the meal to check on me and see what else i needed. each night they took my order for the next day to ensure that it could be accomodated. they also worked with the kitchen to modify any meal selections that i had for the following day based on the menu and my dietary requirements.

it was a little trickier eating from the buffet, but mostly because i had to track down a chef and ask them what i could eat. but once i did that, pretty smooth sailing.

so here are my recommendations for gf/food allergy/intolerance cruising:

1. plan in advance- email the cruiseline in advance so that they can prepare

2. when you arrive on the ship, go speak with the chef in the dining room to make your arrangements for your first meal.

3. pick where you're going to eat for each meal the day before- it's a pain, but they need advance notice in order to accommodate you.

4. bring a few of your own snacks/desserts along as well so that you're not stuck eating fruit every meal. don't get me wrong, i love fruit, but depending on the length of your cruise, this could get tiring. a lot of the fruit on our cruise wasn't ripe (pineapple, melons, etc) so it's nice to have other snack options.

5. ask a lot of questions and double check that they have the right intolerances for you, because it's easy to forget. apparently at a table close by to me a woman had soy and gluten issues, so the head waiter kept confusing me with her and forgot i couldn't have dairy as well.

6. kind of obvious, but thank the staff numerous times and tip them well- it's a great service considering that traveling with food restrictions can be one stressful event and they're making it possible.

7. enjoy your time off from cooking! :)

i would love to hear from anyone else who's gone on any other cruise lines and how they were treated, so please share!

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