A Gluten-free, Dairy-free & Sugar-free Surprise!

Gluten-free + Dairy-free + Sugar-free = Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

Gluten-free + Dairy-free + Sugar-free = Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

About 6 months ago, I was chatting with my good friend Naomi, who also started on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet around the same time as me.  However, she went further by totally cutting out refined sugar.  I have to admit, sometimes I still “cheat” with the sugar-free part, such as eating a Kit Kat bar the other day during break at work.  I tell myself a little refined sugar indulgence is ok once in a while, and compensate it with exercise.  It’s all about balancing! 🙂  Anyways, Naomi went on this eating lifestyle change at the recommendation of her naturopathic doctor for health reasons.  I truly admire her self-control on eating gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free daily!

When I saw her for her birthday a few days ago, she looked absolutely stunning, glowing with health.  To begin with, she has always been beautiful; she looks like a classy, younger version of Ashley Judd with short dark hair.  Nonetheless, the demands of her hectic career affected her physical appearance and energy level in the past few years.  As a result, she gained some weight and had unhealthy pallor of skin.  Now that she has been on her gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free diet for about 6 months, I can really see the difference it has made on her physical appearance.  Her skin is more radiant, her eyes are brighter, and she has slimmed down.  She confides in me that her energy level is much better and she believes it’s all due to changing her eating habits.  As well, her increased energy level allows her to focus on balancing between work and family.  I’m absolutely thrilled for Naomi and through her, see how healthy eating and balanced living work hand in hand towards happiness!

Naomi inspired me to create the following gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free muffins.  A few years ago, Naomi decided to stop buying gifts for family and friends. Instead, she would hand make gifts for them.  I followed suit and surprised her with these yummy treats for her birthday. 🙂

I will now share with you the recipe that I made especially for my dearest friend Naomi.

VIOLET’S VERY HEALTHY BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP OAT MUFFINS

Makes: 18 muffins

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 35 minutes

Special Notes: 

In my further exploration of gluten-free flour, I discovered quinoa flour.  It is high in protein, calcium and iron; it also gives a nutty and sweet taste to the baked goods.  It adds lightness to the baked goods, so I decided to combine it with the almond flour (which makes baked goods dense).  The result of the combination was perfect!

-The sugar from the ripe bananas and the lesser amount of sugar in the semisweet/bittersweet chocolate chips compared to other chocolate types, make the muffins sweet in a natural way!

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour/meal

2 cups quinoa flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (wheat-free & dairy-free)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 ripe and mashed bananas

3 eggs

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line muffin pans with large baking cups.
  2. Combine almond flour, quinoa flour, rolled oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Combine bananas, eggs, almond milk and chocolate chips in another bowl.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  5. Fill each baking cup evenly with the batter.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Let the muffins cool completely.
  8.  Bon appétit!

*I asked Naomi to write a mini review on the muffins after she consumed all of them, and here it is:

“I’ve tried many Gluten-free Sugar-free muffins/recipes before and they all seem to end up with a very dense, heavy texture.  But not these muffins!  They are light and fluffy, with great taste.  They have a natural sweetness from the bananas.  Delicious for a healthy breakfast, snack or even dessert!”

Advertisements

Exploring Gluten-Free Baking…

On my last visit to my naturopathic doctor, as we continued to discuss and explore a variety of ways for me to maintain my healthy eating, she kindly shared with me her Berry Almond Flour Muffins recipe.  At her recommendation, I am on my way in cutting out gluten in my daily diet, since we discovered gluten was another reason I often felt bloated.  I used to have toast with milk (I’ve also decreased my dairy intake now) almost every morning for my breakfast, but now I am learning to find appetizing substitutes for my first meal in the morning.  Of course, balance is the key in life, as well as in eating, so I admit that on special occasions such as at my friend’s wedding a few weeks ago, I had some gluten and dairy food.  I figure that eating gluten once in a while is ok, at least for me. 🙂

I am now experimenting with gluten-free alternatives in my baking and eating.  It’s an area that I’m unfamiliar with, but excited to learn more!

As a chocoholic, I had to add a bit of chocolate into my naturopathic doctor’s recipe, so below you will find my version, with some minor changes.  Have fun baking it!

VIOLET’S RASPBERRY & CHOCOLATE CHIP ALMOND FLOUR MUFFINS

Raspberry & Chocolate Chip Almond Flour Muffins Photo

Makes: 18 muffins

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 45 minutes

Special Notes: I decided to replace the blueberries/cranberries with raspberries, because I find the tartness of the raspberries goes very well with chocolate.  Plus, there are many health benefits in eating raspberries. (see: http://www.livestrong.com/article/419257-benefits-of-raspberries/)  I find the Almond flour makes the muffins very moist, heavy and filling.  Therefore, having one of these muffins for breakfast is a good way to start off the day on a healthy and sweet note! 🙂

Ingredients:

3 cups almond flour/meal

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups raspberries

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup manuka honey

3 eggs

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line muffin pans with large baking cups.
  2. Combine almond flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Combine raspberries, vanilla, manuka honey and eggs in another bowl.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  5. Fill each baking cup evenly with the batter.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Let the muffins cool completely.
  8.  Bon appétit!

Do you know of another gluten-free flour that is great for baking?  Please let me know and if possible, share a recipe with it. 🙂

Thanks & Love, Violet

Up for a Sugar-free Cookie Challenge!!

At the special request of  my mother and grandmother, who are both diabetic, but still have a thing for cookies, I decided to rise to the challenge of baking some real “sugar-free” cookies for them.

They gave me specific criteria of what they want in their sugar-free cookies.  They wanted the cookies to be sugar-free, healthy (as in loaded with fiber, which they want to aid in digestion), and have almonds.

Well, it was very fun to experiment in the kitchen and to come up with the perfect sugar-free almond cookie just for them!

I would like to share the following recipe with you.  These cookies are great for those who are diabetic or health conscious (especially those who do not prefer sweets or sugar too much).  I have it on good authority that they are delicious when paired with a cup of steaming coffee or tea!  My mother brought them to work, and her coworkers liked them so much that they asked me for the recipe.

I hope you will enjoy making them as much as I did, and find joy in feeding them to the people you love!

VIOLET’S ALMOND & AVOCADO SUGAR-FREE COOKIES

Oatmeal Avocado Almond Sugar Free Cookies Photo

Makes: 24 cookies

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 1 hour

Special Notes: Avocado is used in replacement of butter.  It’s a healthier option as it’s naturally creamy and rich already.  Also, to give that extra almond flavour, almond meal/flour, unsweetened almond milk, and almond extract are used in addition to the chopped almonds.  When the cookies are done, they should have a “cakey” or “biscuity” texture.

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup almond meal/flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Half an avocado or 1 small avocado

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon almond extract

1 cup chopped almonds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, whole wheat pastry flour, almond meal/flour, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Mash the avocado or put it into a blender if you want it to be creamy.
  4. Blend avocado with almond milk, egg whites and almond extract in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  5. Stir in the oat mixture until just moistened.
  6. Finally, stir in the almonds.
  7. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on the baking sheet and flatten it to about 1 cm thick; don’t let the sides crack.  Continue until batter is gone, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Let the cookies cool completely.
  10.  Bon appétit!!

Special Information on Almonds:  Almonds is another superfood, and it is not only tasty but nutritious as well!  There are many health benefits to eating almonds on a daily basis.  To name a few, they…

-protect against diabetes

-build strong bones and teeth

-reduce heart disease/attack risk

-provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss

-provide good brain function

-help prevent gallstones

-provide a good source of protein

-give energy

If you’re interested in reading more about almonds, here are the websites I visited:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-health-benefits-of-almonds-king-of-nuts.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-almonds-daily-5007.html

What do you think of these cookies?  Would love to hear from you!

Thanks & Love, Violet