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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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:

Zucchini Cinnamon Squares

Craving carbs and rummaging in the kitchen for a snack?

These squares are moist, mildly sweet, and chock-full of protein because of the bean and quinoa flours. This means that they will contribute more to filling you up than, say, rice flours.

As I noted in a recent post on low-calorie snacks, I’m going back to early recipes to lower their calorie counts, using what I’ve learned since I started this blog in February, 2011.

These squares…well, really rectangles…are adapted from my Zucchini Cinnamon Bread, and the changes reduced the Weight Watcher point count for the total product from 32 to 23, or approximately 1600 calories to 1150, based on 50 calories per point.

  • Flour/starch blend: I replaced the brown rice flour with white bean flour which has an extraordinary amount of protein and fiber per cup. The result is that it’s significantly lower in calories than white or brown rice flour. (Weight Watcher info: the point count of a cup of rice flour is 16; for the bean flour, 9!) I also added potato starch to help with texture and lift.
  • Oil: I eliminated fats altogether. (So there, Satan of Weight Gain!)
  • 12 squares instead of 8 bread slices: I want to keep my snacks at only 2 WW points (or 100 calories). Also, I find it easier to cut equal-size squares than equal-size bread slices.

I also decreased the zucchini from 2 cups to 1 cup. The original bread was sometimes too moist and broke apart too easily, partially, I believe, because the zucchini let off moisture as it cooked. Even so, you’ll need to cook the squares for as long as possible to dry out the batter. 

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Millet-Quinoa Gluten-Free Bread

Millet-Quinoa Gluten-Free Bread
I am THRILLED beyond measure because I have finally made a lovely loaf of yeast bread.  I know exactly what you’re thinking: “Lady, get a life!”

Well, bread is the staff of life, and I am delighted to welcome it back into my existence after some notable failures, including a tasteless loaf, a use-it-as-doorstop loaf, and a generally awful tasting loaf. (However, notably, all of these resulted in excellent gf bread crumbs.)

But this loaf made the grade: it rose beautifully, has a lovely mild taste, and a respectable shape.  While the bread was still warm, I slathered ½ tsp. of butter on a slice and luxuriated in the rich flavour that only comes from eating a newly baked piece of bread.

FYI: Prior to making this loaf, I had been contemplating buying a bread machine because many gluten-free bread makers use them, including the author of the recipe from which I adapted Millet-Quinoa Bread.  However, while discussing this potential purchase with the spouse, he pointed out, oh-so-logically, a flaw in my thinking.

He noted that the only reason we have bread machines really is because they take over the arduous task of kneading gluten dough.  And since gluten-free dough doesn’t require kneading…well, I had to concede the point although I adore buying kitchen gadgetry.  (Sigh.)  In fact, I didn’t even need a mixer to make this bread: only a whisk and a wooden spoon—old-fashioned but still extremely effective technologies.

So…with the help of the original recipe as well as advice from gluten-free cookbook authors, Bette Hagman and Carol Fenster, I set out, sans machines, on this bread-making journey:

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Baking Gluten-Free “Quick Breads”: FAQs

I wrote a version of this article for GlutenFreeWorks.com and decided to post it here as well.  By “quick bread,” I mean a bread made without yeast that can be shaped into a loaf, muffins, or squares. 

This information in the form of a Q&A is the result of a 10-month learning curve that started about three months after I discovered I was gluten-sensitive.  By then, I’d become so screamingly bored with rice cakes, I decided I had to change my life.  I bought a batch of alternative flours, starches, and gums. and began my journey into non-gluten baking.

Q: Why would I bake gluten-free when I can now buy a variety of gluten-free products at a grocery store?

A: You may enjoy baking and want to continue.  Or you may want to save money and not buy packaged foods.  Perhaps, you’re not happy with the quality or taste of what’s available. Continue reading

Cinnamon Spice Cake

This cook can learn new tricks! 

Back in the early depths of this blog—February, to be precise, and during my non-photo era—I posted a recipe for a spice cake which I described as “dense and delicious” and having the “heavenly aroma of cinnamon and other spices.”  At that time I was just thrilled to create a really good-tasting, gluten-free, baked dessert.

Yesterday, I revisited this recipe to improve it.  Having gained much more understanding of alternative flours/starches, I put together a blend of white rice, quinoa flour, tapioca startch, xanthan gum, and salt.  (Good-bye trying to rely on rice flour alone.)  And, having learned to cut back on fats by using unsweetened applesauce combined with much less oil, I managed to halve the caloric content.  The recreated cake is now light, moist, delicious, and low-cal, while definitely retaining that mouth-watering aroma.  Much better all around!

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Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • ½ cup liquid egg replacement (2 eggs)
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and spices.
  2. In a larger bowl, whisk together all liquid ingredients: egg, milk, applesauce, and oil.
  3. Add dry ingredients in thirds to liquid ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan with cooking spray.
  5. Pour batter into pan.  If top needs to be smoothed out, spread with wet fingers.
  6. Bake at 350o F oven for 30-35 minutes or until sides are pulling away from the pan and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers: Each piece is worth 1.5 points on the Points plan and 2 points on the PointsPlus plan.

Light Cocoa Carob Squares

These squares came about because I found myself with 2/3 cup of soured milk that I had forgotten to put in a different bread I was baking.  How did I do that?  Well, I had to give the milk time to sour so I put it to one side as I got the rest of the ingredients put together and then completely forgot about it.  When I mixed the batter, I found the dough—not surprisingly, in retrospect—terribly dry.  Needless to say, this hodge-podge didn’t turn out too well.

Then, of course, I discovered the soured milk.   I couldn’t throw it out, could I?  Nor could I ignore a certain chocolate craving that had arisen because I’d bought some carob chips earlier in the day.  It’s interesting how a craving (which knows it can be fulfilled) just keeps nudging at you, isn’t it?  At any rate, the result is a delight.  Squares that are mildly sweet and light in texture, taste, and calories. 

Cooking note: The original recipe called for ½ tsp. of unflavoured gelatin.  As this wasn’t a “jell0” style cake, I didn’t know what function the gelatin served.  Some research later: In order to avoid having a cake cracking along the top as it cools, you should “Add gelatin to the cake batter as you mix it. The gelatin works to keep the cooling cake intact and it can also add fullness to the baked cake.”  (eHow Food)

Update: I recently bought my quinoa flour at a different store than usual and discovered, when making these squares, that I had to add more liquid.  In fact, I’ve altered the recipe for 1 cup of soured milk.  Feel free to add ¼ or so of water or alternative milk if you still find your batter too dry.

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. unflavoured gelatin
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 soy or lactose-free milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup liquid egg substitute
  • 4½ tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1½ tbsp. oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened carob chips
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. If not using buttermilk, mix alternative milk with lemon juice, let sit for about 5 minutes, and then stir.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: rice flour, quinoa flour, artificial sugar, tapioca flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, gelatin, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together all liquid ingredients, buttermilk or soured milk, liquid egg substitute, applesauce, oil, and carob chips.
  4. Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix until it forms a thick batter.
  5. Spray a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  6. Pour batter into the pan and bake in a 350° F oven for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool and cut into 16 squares.

For Weight Watchers: Each square is worth 2 points on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Altered from “Irish Soda Bread” by Jefferson Adams at www.celiac.com)

Strawberry-in-Season Cobbler (Egg-Free)

It’s strawberry season! I can’t pass a farm foodstand without stopping and buying the luscious-looking and equally luscious-tasting strawberries.

Having bought several quarts during the past weeks I’ve been looking for ways to use the strawberries that are a bit more elegant than munching on fistfuls. Hence I turned to my Cinnamon Blueberry Cobbler recipe and rejigged it for strawberries. Mmm…good!

Again, I’ve used erythritol as a sweetener because it has no aftertaste and the cobbler has a delicate flavour. Also, without eggs and using only two tablespoons of yogurt, this cobbler remains my lowest-calorie baked dessert.

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Taste tip: It is important to cool the cobbler down completely before eating it. When it is hot, the cake is a little gummy. However, after it cooled, it was fine. Why? Who knows?

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup erythritol + 2 tbsp. erithyritol
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. plain goat yogurt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups stawberries, washed and sliced
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: rice flour, quinoa flour, tapioca starch, ½ cup erythritol, 1 tsp. cinnamon, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together water, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.
  4. Spray 8″ x 8″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  5. Pour cake batter into pan.
  6. In a small bowl, add strawberries and 2 tbsp. erythritol, and mix gently until fruit is coated.
  7. Cover cake batter with strawberries.
  8. Bake in 350° F oven for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean and edges are pulling back from the sides of the pan.
  9. Do not eat until cool! Cut into 8 servings and enjoy!

For Weight Watchers: Each serving is 2 points on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

Cinnamon Blueberry Cobbler (Egg-free)

One of my goals in life is to create baked products that meet both the needs of my diet and my sweet tooth.  I have trained the latter to be satisfied with a lower level of sweetness, but it likes its treats and grumbles when its demands are ignored. (Anybody know a dentist who can deal with this little monster?) 

Anyway, after much experimentation, I have managed to come up with a cobbler (cake with fruit on top) that is moderately sweet, light, and about as healthy as a cake can be (it includes quinoa flour, yogurt, and blueberries).  But it has no eggs and virtually no oil, making it my lowest-calorie baked product, thus far. 

This recipe is also the first time that I’ve baked with erythritol, a granulated sugar alcohol with a low glycemic index (good for diabetics) and no aftertaste whatsoever (good for everyone else).  

At the moment, erythritol ranges between $13-16 a pound in Canada for the Now Natural Food product and $18-20 for the 12-ounce pack of Organic Zero.  This is twice as expensive than the same products in the U.S.  This makes me a little crazy.  To keep my sanity, I’m looking into ordering in bulk, from a U.S. online seller.  If anyone has done this, please let me know.  At any rate, I’ll keep you posted.

Update: I have now also made Strawberry-in-Season Cobbler, which used this recipe but required a bit of tweaking.

Printer-friendly recipe

Taste tip: It is important to cool the cobbler down before eating it.  When it is hot, the cake is a little gummy.  In fact, I had thought, at first, that I had another disaster.  However, after it cooled, it was fine.  Why?  Who knows?

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp. sweetener (Note: Weight Watcher points for this recipe are based on the use of a no-calorie sugar.  I used erythritol.)
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. plain goat yogurt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: rice flour, quinoa flour, tapioca starch, ½ cup erythritol, 1 tsp. cinnamon, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together water, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.
  4. Spray 8″ x 8″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  5. Pour cake batter into pan.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining  2 tbsp. of erythritol and 1 tsp. of cinnamon.
  7. Add blueberries and mix gently until coated.
  8. Cover cake batter with blueberries.
  9. Bake in 350° F oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean.
  10. Do not eat until cool!  Cut into 8 servings and enjoy!

For Weight Watchers: Each serving is 2 points on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Very Berry Cobbler” at Raia’s Recipes.)

Coconut Mango Bread or Squares

Do you love coconut?  And sweet, moist, rich squares?  And goodies you can eat without destroying your diet?  Voilà!  These squares fit the bill perfectly.

I’ve made this recipe both as a bread and squares but, following my desire for small portions, I think I’ll keep to squares.  I know, I know…I could cut a bread slice in half and get the same caloric intake, but not the same mental satisfaction.  The other half of the bread slice would sit there, just begging to be consumed.  A square, on the other hand, is an entity unto itself, happily eaten as a stand-alone.  (Such are the mental gymnastics of the dieter.)

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 8 bread slices or 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour/starch
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ cup sweetener (Note: Weight Watcher point values are based on the use of artificial sugar.)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut, sweetened
  • 1 cup puréed mango (approximately 1 large or 2 small)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2½ tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flours, sugar, spices, xanthan gum, and salt.
  2. Add coconut to dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together wet ingredients: mango, egg, vanilla, applesauce, and oil.
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing after each addition. (Final batter will be thick but will pour well.  I found this batter to be more liquid than many others that I make with gluten-free flours.)
  5. Spray 9″ x 9″ baking pan or 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with cooking spray.
  6. Pour in batter and bake in 350º F oven, 25-30 minutes for squares or 55-60 minutes for bread, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers:

  • Squares: 1 square of 16 squares is 1.5 points on the Points plan and 1.75 points on the PointsPlus plan.
  • Bread: 1 slice of 8 slices is 3 points on the Points plan and 3.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Altered from “Mango Coconut Bread” at http://www.briarrosebb.com/r/mango-coconut-bread.html)