Focaccia Mini-Loaves

I am truly, honestly, thrilled by these mini-loaves.

In the gluten-free, dairy-free, diet journey that is my life, I have been truly thrilled on three occasions:

  • When I made my first gf baked product—cornbread. I was ecstatic at having a starch to eat that wasn’t rice, potatoes, or rice cakes.
  • When I made my first successful loaf of gf bread. I was ecstatic that I had advanced beyond creating heavy door stops!
  • When I discovered bean bakes. I was ecstatic that beans and eggs could provide me with low-cal, easy-to-make, and healthy alternatives to flour-based products.

Real thrills. Ordinary people would tell me to get a life, but you and I know differently, right? So I hope you’ll be thrilled along with me about these mini-loaves. They provide a yeast bread experience without the yeast! Rich, satisfying, and delicious.

Three more things:

(1) I’m not really sure whether these loaves classify as focaccia. They’re not made with yeast or are flat and dimpled, but they do have spices, including rosemary, on top. But they’re made with yogurt, not water…yada, yada, yada…but, what the hey, they need a name.

(2) This is an adaption of an already gf recipe. Many thanks to April at the Gluten Free Zen blog for a great recipe: “Italian Flatbread.” I knew her bread would be delicious but, alas, not for me. It wouldn’t fit into my diet at 22.5 points per mini-loaf. So I changed the flours, altered the ratio of flours to starches, cut the oils as far back as I could, and managed to just about halve the point value: each mini-loaf is now 12.5 points, and a ¼ portion at 3.25 points makes a fine and low-cal addition to a soup or salad.

(3) These freeze beautifully and taste just as good after defrosting.

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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:

Coffee Cup Upside-Down Mini-Cake

The mini-cake is cooked and ready to be turned over.

My mini-cake is a miniature tower.

The spouse’s mini-cake had structural damage
so he cut it into slices.

This mini-cake is fun! (Kids will love it.) It cooks in minutes in the microwave. It’s yummy. And it has built-in portion control. Who could ask for anything more?

Well, we could ask for a consistent shape, I suppose. One mini-cake turned out to be a perfect tower with a dome; the other had its dome collapse and the whole edifice had to be levelled.

Baking perfectionists may ask, “What happened?” Perhaps it was how I put the apple slices in the bottom of the cup (no arranging: I just dropped them in and mixed in the sugar and cinnamon). Maybe it was the way I put in the batter. Truth be told: I have not a clue.

Clearly, this recipe requires more experiments, but how hard will that be with the fruit season just about upon us? I’m thinking peach, mango, plums, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry…

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Protein-Packed Chocolate Quinoa Cookies

So far, on this blog, I’ve avoided cookies. I have some good excuses—no children at home anymore and, well, fear of the Cookie Monster.

You know this ogre.

She has tentacles that go straight into your sweet tooth and carb cravings. You will try to quit after one or two cookies while the monster manipulates your taste buds so that the first cookie—nay, the first bite—creates a powerful urge to keep right on going.

For those of you who can eat a whole bag in one sitting—YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

So I’ve avoided cookies for good reasons. Then I spotted a recipe that had good health and diet potential because of the quinoa which is high in protein and, therefore, stomach-filling. I did some adjusting to give it even more protein and reduce calories, and I kept the sweetness at a low ebb so it wouldn’t arouse the sleeping, but ever vigilant, monster.

My spouse was the first sampler. “It’s good,” he said, “but I thought it would be sweeter. Cookies are usually sweeter.”

See how the food manufacturers have trained our palates?

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Butternut Squash Brownies (oil-free)

Butternut Squash Brownie
served with yogurt and clementine

Looking for a yummy and filling brownie that’s also low-calorie? This one has no oil, and that makes a big difference. I am always amazed when calculating Weight Watcher point-values how fast they go up when you add in the oil—3 points for every tablespoon. Whew!

You can substitute other gluten-free flours in this recipe, but that may change the amount of liquid (in the form of eggs or milk) that you may need. Different flours are thirsty in different amounts.

If you do decide to vary the recipe, mix batter without the egg and add, as necessary, in ¼ cup batches. The batter should be thick but spreadable.

Enjoy!

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For Newbies: A Day in the Gluten-Free Life

When I became a gluten-sensitive newbie a year ago, I couldn’t figure out what I’d eat on a day-by-day basis.

This hadn’t been a problem when I became lactose-intolerant because so many alternatives to cow’s milk products were in the grocery stores. Nor had it been a diet problem because my program (Weight Watchers) was not restrictive in choice, just in portion size.

But gluten-intolerance (and also a problem with oats, alas) threw me into a complete tizzy. So many of my favorite foods were out the window. What was I going to eat at breakfast? For lunch? What about when I just wanted to grab a snack?

Oh yes, I could eat potatoes, rice cakes, rice crackers, and rice/corn cereals until I was blue in the face, but eventually I overdosed. Basically, my food choices shrank to the point that they fit in a very small box. To say I was unhappy would have been a major understatement.

Fast forward a year later: I’m no longer down in the no-gluten dumps. In fact, I have a more varied and interesting diet than I’ve ever had. Why? It’s not because stores are carrying a lot more gluten-free products. I can’t eat most of them because they contain milk and/or are too high in calories.

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Cheese-Herb Muffins with Green Onion

Best served warm.

Here is a delicious, light, savoury muffin that’s filled with sharp cheese, green onions, parsley, and dill.

You could eat it as you would have a slice of bread to accompany soup, a casserole, or stew. Or have it for breakfast with eggs. Or just enjoy it on its own, toasted with a bit of butter.

I can tolerate very small amounts of milk, such as a butter pat, once in a rare while. This muffin definitely deserves to be is one of those “whiles.”

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Blackberry Cobbler (Egg-free)

Imagine yourself in the position I was in on Monday afternoon.

I am in Farmboy, a store somewhat akin to U.S. Whole Foods, standing in front of the discount-food rack (one of my favourite shopping spots) where they put the fruits and vegetables that didn’t sell on the weekend. Items have been repackaged into larger quantities.

I spot two large containers of blackberries.  This is amazing because berries rarely make it onto this rack. Each package is $2.49 and, it later turns out, holds 4 cups of berries.

I study them closely and darned if those berries didn’t look really fresh. No furry spots, no discolouration.

What would you have done? Me…well, I can’t resist the bargain, even though I know I’m going to have to use those berries up very quickly.

One of my strategies was to slightly re-cobble my very low-cal cobbler recipe and double it from 8 to 16 pieces. We’ve been eating the cobbler since Tuesday, and these are the last two pieces. Delicious!

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Introducing The Bean Bake Blog

As promised, I will no longer be deluging you with bean bake recipes. However, my fascination with them continues. So many foods; so many bean-bake possibilities.

Hence The Bean Bake Blog now is happily ensconced in its own little corner of the blogosphere, and I’m in the process of copying all the recipes from here to there.

And I’ll let you know when I post something new there since this dish fits the criteria of this blog as a gluten-free, dairy-free, diet food.

And, if you’re interested, I’m abandoning ship on the kiwi bean bakes. I recently learned that kiwi and pineapple can’t be used in jello because they contain an enzyme that breaks down the protein in gelatin (thanks to friend Becky, daughter Lisa, and ever-helpful Google for this cooking tip).

I think this is also happening with the protein in the eggs, and that’s why the bakes don’t set properly even when I add foods such as avocado, banana, and cauliflower which usually help stabilize the bakes.

Yes, you read that correctly. My last kiwi try was with cauliflower! Lovely taste actually.

The spouse and I are off to the Caribbean for two weeks. There he can engage in his favourite pastime—scuba-diving, while I engage in mine—sloth. If I meet any interesting foods, I’ll let you know.