WOW! Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake

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Every once in a while, I get a real thrill when baking for this blog, and this is one of those times. Why? Because what I’ve made not only exceeds my expectations, it proves that gluten-free cakes and breads can be just as good as those that include wheat. (Other thrills were cornbread, a loaf of yeast bread, and non-yeast mini-bread loaves.)

So…ta-da! I’m utterly thrilled and delighted to be able to bring you a gluten-free angel food cake that rose beautifully in the oven and didn’t sink while cooling. This success was wonderful in itself because I’ve tried other angel food cake recipes and had major flops (pun intended).

Best of all, this cake tastes like the real deal—sweet, moist, light, and delicious. Mmmm.

The credit for this marvel goes to the Taste of Home website and what you see here is 99.9% of their recipe (somewhat rewritten for clarity). My .1% contribution? I added cocoa powder because one of my mottos is “Chocolate Whenever!”

Speckled swirls?

Speckled swirls?

I thought I could get a black/white swirly thing going. Instead I got a speckled somewhat swirl, but…well, who cares? It’s still…Mmmm.

However, I have plans for this recipe. Right now, it is not a low-carb version. It has 1¼ cups of sugar and, if you slice this 16 ways, each piece has 23 g of carbohydrate. (For more nutrition info, see below.)

I’d like to bring the carbs down because I’m pre-diabetic and need to be careful about my carb intake. I plan to experiment with creating a cake that has a sugar/xylitol or sugar/erythritol combination.

Both of these sugar alternatives have the crunch of sugar but are much lower on the glycemic index and, thus, will have less impact on my blood sugar levels. An added benefit? A lower calorie version as well.

I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, bake…eat…enjoy!

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Banana Bread with Carob Chips

chocolatechipbananabread2Okay, okay, it’s a recycled recipe. But here’s the good news.

I shaved 11 WW points (roughly 500 calories) from the original recipe by changing one flour and eliminating the oil altogether. Thank you, applesauce, for being such a great replacement!

Using millet flour instead of rice flour not only added nutrition and cut points, it also got rid of the need for milk—another calorie savings. Millet flour, I’m learning, is less thirsty than rice flour.

Of course, the applesauce may have something to do with it, but who knows? This is the kind of mystery that makes gluten-free, low-calorie baking so intriguing…she says with a smile.

Anyway, light and delicious, this banana bread can be served as a loaf, a muffin, or a square (as shown in the photo.)

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Navy Bean Brownies with Carob Chips (no flour, no dairy)

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How’s your Chocolate Monster? Mine is alive and well, thank you very much.

In fact, I would say that she has been on a bit of a rampage lately. I’ve made two batches of brownies in 3 days. I eat them for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.

Breakfast! you exclaim. Brownies for breakfast? 

Yup, unless you’ve got something against eggs and beans first thing in the morning. No kidding. These brownies* are not only delicious and filling, they’re good for you—high in protein, low in carbs, and low in calories.

So how can your Chocolate Monster or mine resist?

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GF Dieters: Please Be Cautious with this Cookbook!

Recently, I checked The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace out of the library. It is a newly published cookbook, and the title and claim—“80 low-carb recipes that offer solutions for celiac disease, diabetes, and weight loss”—sounded as if its recipes would be perfect for me and many of the readers of this blog.

The reality, however, doesn’t live up to the hyperbole, particularly if viewed through a Weight Watchers lens. If you’re a gluten-free dieter or a person with diabetic issues who has to keep your weight down, caution is in order. Here’s why.

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How to Blend Low-Calorie, Gluten-Free Flours/Starches

Recently, I got a reader comment that surprised me.

Katherine from the Kat’s Health Corner blog was remarking on my Pumpkin Currant Muffins and wrote, “I love how you combined the chickpea and quinoa flours — how creative!” What surprised me was the praise. (But thank you, Katherine, thank you!)

The truth is I’m driven, not so much by the desire to be creative, but by the search for low-calorie GF flour/starch blends for baking.

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Pumpkin-Spaghetti Squash “Kugel”

Only 1 WW point!

Aren’t leftovers nature’s way of improving human creativity?

That was my take on 1½ cups of leftover pumpkin purée.

Gotta do something other than painting the walls with the stuff.

Hit the creativity button!

1) I remembered my recipe for Apple-Spaghetti Squash Kugel. (Revised January 21, 2014.) 

2) Just by coincidence, we also had spaghetti squash leftovers.

Clearly, fate was trying to tell me something. Even better, I was listening for once!

Some thoughts on this ersatz kugel:

  • It tastes just like pumpkin pie but doesn’t have the same texture. I left the spaghetti squash strands as is, but you could purée them to have a smoother texture. That would make this dish a terrific, low-cal version of the real thing.
  • The WW point count of this dish is 3 points for the eggs + 2 points for the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend = 5 points. Next time I’ll just do ½ cup of the Blend and eliminate the Splenda regular artificial sweetener. That will enhance the brown sugar flavour and add only 2 more points.

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Blackberry Buckle with Faux-Streusel

One of the challenges of writing a food blog is deciding whether changes to a recipe are just variations on a theme, or if they create a product different enough to justify a new post.

To be honest, I wobbled on this one. To create it, I had made three changes to the Blueberry Buckle Sans Streusel:

  1. Used blackberries (on sale!) instead of blueberries
  2. Used white bean flour instead of garfava flour
  3. Added a topping made of erythritol and cinnamon

Each of these would be a variation if it were on its own, but put them all together…well, I felt they made a considerable change of texture from the original recipe.

Most significantly, the cake is less moist although I used a smaller pan which made the batter deeper. Was the dryness the result of a difference in fruit, in the flour, or in both? The short answer: I don’t know.

I do have a longer, rambling speculation, but I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say that gluten-free baking remains as fascinating to me as ever.

The second textural change involved the topping. I only added this because the blackberries were tart, but they gave each piece a sweet crunch that didn’t exist in the original…and even merited a compliment from my grandson.

So, given that I think texture is as important as taste

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Blueberry Buckle Sans Streusel

A “buckle” belongs, I have discovered, in the early American family of fruit cobblers with names such as crisps, crumbles, grunts, slumps, soakers, and pandowdy (ies?).

(I just can’t help thinking about the First Household. George, grumbling: “This cake is a mess!” Martha, spritely: “It’s a new recipe. I call it a slump.”)

Anyway, a buckle was a blueberry cake with a streusel topping of flour, butter, and sugar that buckled or crumpled when baking.

Well, here’s the good news, dieters! In this recipe, the top—not streuseled to save calories—buckled anyway. The cake rose as it baked and then sank and cracked along its own internal geological lines as it cooled. How authentic is that!

In other good news, these low-calorie squares taste splendid—moist and fruity—with a blend of millet and garfava flours. Why the new blend? 1) Millet has a sweetness and texture I like. 2) Garfava flour is an easy-to-find bean flour, a mix of chickpea and fava bean flours. Bean flours up the protein of a baked product and add fewer carbs and hence calories.

Bon appétit!

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Quinoa Brownies for Serious Chocoholic Dieters (no flour, no oil)

Hit by an intense and unceasing chocolate craving? Fear not, these brownies will come to the rescue.

They are moist, rich, and chocolate-y to the nth degree.

They’re also healthy, chockfull of protein, and good for your diet.  Plus, a cinch to make.

Sounds impossible? Read on!

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Point Values of Gluten-Free Flours, Starches, and Ground Meals

This post replaces last year’s “Point Values of Gluten-Free Flours.” Why and what’s new?

  • More flours: I’m finding new GF flours in my own small corner of the world, and you’re probably seeing them too.  The main change here is the growing variety of bean flours, which is welcome to dieters because they are lower in calories and higher in proteins than other flours.
  • No descriptors: I’ve dropped the brief descriptions of the flours. I was never entirely comfortable with them because I hadn’t used all the flours and was relying on other people’s information and taste buds. Moreover, as more people require GF diets, the amount of information on the Internet increases exponentially. Just google an ingredient, and you’ll find out a lot more information than I could provide in the space I had.
  • Three lists instead of one list: Gluten-free bakers have to create blends of ingredients to replace wheat flour because no one flour, even with xanthan or guar gum, can work in all recipes. Essentially, we pick and choose among three types of ingredients: flours, starches, and ground meals. Having three lists reflects this reality.
  • Elimination of the Points Program values: Last year, this time, Weight Watchers was just switching programs so I had both. Now I have just the point values from the PointsPlus Program.

New to GF baking? I’m sure the whole GF “scene” is just plain daunting. That’s certainly where I was a year ago.

However, once you learn the ropes, you will find yourself mixing and matching ingredients based on the type of baking you’re doing, the tastes and textures you’re looking for, the nutrients you want and, if you’re dieting, the point value of the flour.  (For non-Weight Watchers: one point is roughly 50 calories.)

Some suggestions for getting started: