Posts Tagged chia seed

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    March 15 was the day of the 2011 Soup Supper annual fund raiser for The Caring Place. Every year the best restaurants in Georgetown contribute gallons of their specialty soups and TCP volunteers donate cornbread and desserts. Aside from baking we also put on aprons and serve our guests who come to enjoy the meal.

    There is also a silent auction featuring some of the very nicest things from the in-house Fabulous Finds resale store. Clothing from the boutique is modeled to show off the incredible quality that can be found in that department.

    Once again I baked gluten-free cornbread. Last year I made one batch of scratch cornbread and one batch from a mix. The scratch gluten-free version was no doubt the favorite. So this year I baked two double batches of scratch cornbread.

    I made a test batch a few weeks ago just to be sure I would not mess up a lot of expensive ingredients and I am glad that I did. I found that the cornmeal remaining from last year, carefully stored in the freezer, had developed an ‘off’ taste. So every year that I make this I will be sure to buy a fresh bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornmeal.

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    Astigmatism makes cutting straight lines a challenge so I got out my ancient, trusty forms ruler from data processing days. Yes, the little sticker has my name on it. Back-in-the-day Don and I had his-and-her forms rulers; definitely a geeky household here.

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

    It is wonderful how many people turn out to support this organization. By the time I gathered my few remaining wits together we were winding down, most of the cornbread was gone, but I did manage to snap a photo of Amanda. She was charming and cheerful throughout the evening and the time passed very quickly.

Amanda Serving Cornbread

Amanda Serving Cornbread

    We were wearing the yellow construction ‘hard’ hats to call attention to the fact that work has already started on the new food pantry facility at The Caring Place. Donation boxes on the tables were another subtle reminder.

    Those of us who work in the pantry are delighted that this construction has begun. We are also anticipating a better warehouse area for managing the storage of food and more efficient stocking of the pantry.

Gretchen

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Pumpkin Pudding Revisited and @TravelingRD

    Last year I wrote about our family tradition of Pumpkin Pudding as a childhood staple when Rita, Jorge, and Teresa were growing up. My children did not like carrots and would not eat other yellow veggies so I created this pumpkin pudding for them to get their vitamin A. It was made from canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, unflavored gelatin, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It became quite popular with many family members.

    For years my younger brother, Jon, received his very own batch of Pumpkin Pudding at Thanksgiving. The recipe was published in The vonRosenberg Family of  Texas Cookbook as I mentioned last year in my Pumpkin Pudding post.  

    Teresa, our dietician, has shared the family recipe for Pumpkin Pudding many times. About 15 years ago she prepared it for pre-school children as a way of introducing pumpkin as a new food. Several years ago it was published as part of a gluten-free article that she wrote. Even now it is on the Dairy MAX website recipe section as Jack-o-lantern Pudding. More recently it has appeared in her guest post at Robinsbite, Kids Food Memories–The Proof is in the Pudding

     Teresa, Being ever mindful of her mission to promote good nutrition, especially in children, has substituted the cup of undiluted evaporated milk with low-fat milk; my taste buds prefer the richer mixture made with evaporated milk 😉

    Teresa’a  nutrition related blog is The Dairy Report.  And you can follow her on Twitter @TravelingRD.

    Even more recently I experimented with a new version inspired by Ricki’s various chia based puddings that she creates over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. This one happened during a clear-out-the-refrigerator frenzy in preparation for Thanksgiving and it was yummy!

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
4 tablespoons whole (or ground) chia seed
1 cup canned (or fresh) pumpkin puree (about 1/2 can)
1 cup coconut milk
Cinnamon to taste
Vanilla
Stevia to taste

Whisk or beat ingredients together until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until set. This is a great for breakfast or as a nourishing snack.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Responding to Accidental Gluten

Disclaimer: This is what happened and how I responded. Nothing that I did would have hurt me yet I don’t know if my first aid measures contributed anything at all to getting safely through. Perhaps I have avoided gluten for so long that my sensitivity level is reduced. But it was scary in a holding-your-breath kind of way and this is how it went down.

    I should have asked but I didn’t. Near the end of the shift there was cake on the break table with the initials of the baker scribbled on a piece of paper. I did not realize that this generous, recipe-sharing cook still made the gluten version for others. I thought that finally I would get to taste her old family favorite realized gluten-free. It was a pound cake and with a cup of coffee it was so wonderful that I not only had another piece I squirreled away a piece for later. Before returning to finish my shift I popped my head in her door to rave; and from the horrified expression on her face I instantly knew.

    I spent the next hour fretting over what I should do upon arriving home.

    Hopefully the fates were with me. Rita and I had learned a great deal in the previous weeks from Chef Alain Braux regarding the use of probiotics to heal a damaged gut. There were a couple of variations of fermented vegetables plus cultured coconut milk in the refrigerator. I had just started taking an extra probiotic dose in the evening as well as my usual morning one. And only the day before had sampled organic raw kambucha. I had weapons and a plan.

Friday 2010-12-17
    I arrived home about 4:30 pm and upon walking in the kitchen consumed a spoonful of organic fermented daikon radish.  Then I popped a mild laxative pill to encourage my often sluggish digestion to pass the gluten through as rapidly as possible.

    I cooked a full pound of frozen chopped spinach for dinner and ate as much of it as I could with a few rice crackers. Later on I finished it – that was a lot of spinach! About 30 minutes later I had a spoonful of the organic fermented sauerkraut. Then while cleaning up in the kitchen I prepared a generous portion of chia seed/pumpkin puree/almond milk pudding for breakfast and set it aside in the fridge. Just before going to bed I had that extra probiotic tablet plus an antihistamine.

    I woke up at about 4:00 am with my guts churning. I decided to sample about two ounces of the cultured coconut milk. It is thick, tummy soothing and tangy, sort of like buttermilk. And so far so good, no red swollen face reaction.

    Up again at 6:00 am and very uncertain as to how this would all play out. I had the chia pudding breakfast with a big mug of green tea and the morning probiotic plus the usual vitamins.

    My stomach was growling at 9:45 am as we departed for our fitness center workout. I decided on another shot of the cultured coconut milk just to keep me over until lunch.

    For lunch I used leftover chicken to make a big bowl of chicken salad with diced celery, romaine lettuce, and olive oil dressing with a spoonful of the fermented sauerkraut mixed in.

    A week later – post Christmas: with all of the above preventative measures plus very cautious eating choices I seem to have come through with no apparent residual effects. Again, nothing about this response was scientific – it was using what was on hand and hoping for the best.

    I am going into the New Year with renewed determination to avoid all gluten as one component for maintaining good health. Just when you think you have all the answers then new discoveries and interesting information appear on the internet and especially the blogosphere.

    Thanks to all of you who blog and those who comment and make suggestions as you participate and share in this incredible learning journey. Best wishes for a healthy and safe year ahead for all of our families, friends, and readers!

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Pumpkin Muffins – Finally!!

    Gluten-free pumpkin bread is a recipe that I have been working on ever since gluten awareness because it is such a family favorite. The recipe has wandered down many culinary alleys (some of them dark) with various flours, binders, sweeteners and never quite making it. Finally there is this recipe. It is receiving favorable comments from people accustomed to these experiments and some who have tasted them and just enjoyed them as pumpkin muffins without qualification.
    What has been really interesting is that the beginning versions that followed the original recipe exactly, except for flour, have been totally unsatisfactory. It was only after the versions using vegan binders did the texture start to become more satisfactory. This is something for future experimentation.
    My only disclaimer at this point is due to the fact that while the recipe has been in development it has only been baked in silicon cupcake forms. That allows for tasting fresh and warm, tasting the day after baking, and finally tasting after freezing and barely re-warming in the microwave plus having sample sizes ready-to-eat. So I have not tried loaf pans yet and do not know what baking-without-gluten issues may lay there – fair warning!

Ingredients:
1.5 tbsp ground chia seed
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
½ cup + 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan
1/2 tsp fruit pectin
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp water (optional)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare for 20-24 cupcake size muffins or perhaps 12 large muffins.

In a large bowl:
Combine the ground chia with the applesauce. Add the agave nectar and pumpkin puree and stir until combined. I have previously added some drops of stevia to make them sweeter but they are very well received without it. Set aside for about 30 minutes or so to allow the chia to absorb some moisture. Add coconut oil and vanilla just before combining with the dry ingredients as coconut oil has a tendency to congeal at room temperature.

In a medium bowl:
Sift the flours, xanthan, pectin, baking powder, baking soda, spices and sea salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined. If the batter is really stiff stir in one tablespoon of water at a time until the batter is a scoopable texture (dense and puffy).

Fill your prepared bake ware to the 2/3 level. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness with a tester or with a very thin knife.

Allow the muffins to cool in pan on a wire rack. Turn out after 10 minutes so they don’t get sweaty. After they have cooled wrap individual servings and store in an air-tight container on the counter for 3 days or keep in the freezer.

These have a very cake-like texture and I have also frosted them with a cashew cream frosting and served them as cupcakes.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Cornbread

Inspired by a recipe from The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O’Brien.
Taste tested and certified by people who can eat any kind of cornbread they want.
Certified as ‘very good’ by two people who usually do not like cornbread!

   Our Georgetown, Texas organization known as The Caring Place (TCP) provides a wide variety of services for people. They have a yearly Soup Supper fund raiser. Local restaurants donate hearty soups while TCP volunteers bake cornbread and desserts. I volunteered cornbread; not that I have ever been a big fan of any kind of bread for the obvious glutenful reasons. Gluten-free cornbread was my objective and for this I needed help. I had to enlist taste testers who know how traditional cornbread is supposed to taste.
   My first attempt seemed dry and even gritty. My friend Ann verified this for me. I was working with gluten-free, stone ground cornmeal which is fairly coarse. For the next attempt I decided to go all out and try also to target those who have dairy and egg allergies which meant searching for a vegan recipe. The one I chose specified ‘egg replacer’ and neither that term nor product has ever appealed to me.
   Flax seed and chia seed both form a gelatinous, viscous mass reminiscent of egg white when soaked in liquid. Some recipes are beginning to call for these seeds as the binder to use in place of egg. And both of these seeds contribute substantial nutritional benefits – my idea of what you should use in your food. As best I can tell right now flax seed requires three times as much by measure to bind like chia. Earlier recipes just called for the ground seed mixed with the dry ingredients. But experience is proving that preparing the seed separately in advance gives much better results.
   For the non-dairy ‘milk’ I prefer a mixture of my favorite almond milk mixed half & half with regular canned coconut milk. These combine to enhance the slight sweetness of cornbread and provide extra moisture that contributes greatly to the unique taste and texture.

Chia Goop (binder):
1 teaspoon ground chia seed
3 tablespoons water
Mix together in a medium microwave bowl.
Heat the mixture for about 30-40 seconds (just until it boils).
Set aside for at least an hour; longer is better.
It should be viscous like egg white.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
4 teaspoons GF baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup GF cornmeal

Liquid Ingredients:
1 cup non-dairy milk (1/2 cup almond + 1/2 cup coconut)
1/4 cup agave nectar (low-glycemic; provides extra moisture)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Oil a non-stick 8” square pan with the same vegetable oil used for the batter and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and blend with a whisk. Add the other wet ingredients to the chia preparation and whisk those together. Dump all of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour immediately into the prepared pan.

Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Test with a cake tester or toothpick to be sure. If you’ve done this before you can use the ‘touch test’. Cool briefly on a rack before cutting.

   I plan to pre-cut and wrap each serving piece separately to prevent cross-contamination with the regular cornbread. A package of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cornbread mix will also be prepared. Gluten-free is very much in the news lately and this will be interesting to observe just how much demand there is for the gluten-free versions as opposed to traditional cornbread!

Mom

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Monday in the Kitchen

Carrots
   Who remembers anymore what carrots look like fresh out of the garden? It came as somewhat of a startle when a large sack of carrots- roots, frost bit tops, mud, gnats and all showed up in the food pantry last Friday afternoon. The carrots themselves were fat and beautiful but I knew we would have to work fast to get them distributed. We divided out two pound bags and started giving them out with food orders. There was not the usual flood of clients that day (a rare occurrence) so we gave them out to all comers who stopped by the window. At the end of the shift Ann and Megan had already left and I didn’t have time to write up a note and put that one last lonely bag in the fridge. So I brought it home to reacquaint myself with basic veggie preparation.

   Into the sink with all of them, spray hard to soften and rinse off most of the mud, and untangle the tops (they were a large, green&brown, unruly fright wig mass) – they filled up the sink. Then I cut off the roots and carefully picked out the good green tops and threw away the brown ones. The roots were scrubbed with a brush to remove the last bits of mud from the crevasses, the greens were rinsed again and all of it set aside to drain. The top part of the carrot where the greens join the root was too hard to clean so that bit was trashed as well.

Tops to the Trash

Tops to the Trash

   Why bother with saving the greens? As I learned after my previous post on Carrots the green tops are not only edible but they are fabulously nutritious and all of that is usually thrown away by the time carrots arrive in the produce section of your grocery store as I was notified by the World Carrot Museum.

All Cleaned Up and Ready to Cook

All Cleaned Up and Ready to Cook

Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf
I hadn’t cooked quinoa in quite a while – too busy with baking experiments and other activities. But when I came across this recipe at Karina’s Gluten-Free Goddess blog for Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf something clicked into place. Mushrooms and green peppers in the fridge?, check, garlic?, check, parsley?, no but I have used carrot tops as a substitute before – so I really, really had to make this dish!

Time Out for Lunch!

Time Out for Lunch!

All About Stevia
   Ricki’s blog, Diet, Dessert, and Dogs is one of my favorite reads. Today she had a very interesting discussion going, All About Stevia. This product is something I have been playing with since Rita bought me a bottle of Sprout’s brand of liquid stevia over the holidays. So far I really like it as a sweetener in my lattes, both café latte and chai latte. The recent recipe for Banana Coconut Muffins has been well received by my taste test crew – with no added sugar, the sweetness all comes from a banana and that liquid stevia. And finally I have really gotten into Ricki’s super healthy creation Chia “Tapioca” Pudding. I’ve been having it most mornings for a couple of weeks.

Chia Seeds
   Chia has a fascinating nutritional profile and is now starring as one of the newest ‘super foods’. Soaked chia seeds are gelatinous in texture and a spoonful of chia seed mixed into liquid will set up as a soft pudding. I use 1/2 cup of warm almond milk adding one tablespoon of chia, eight drops of stevia, and four drops of vanilla. When set aside for several hours it becomes very much like a tapioca pudding because of the swollen seeds. They are seeds and may not be suitable for consumption by anyone that has texture issues! Chia is available pre-ground and if you plan to use ground chia I say buy it that way – I keep both on hand. My attempt to grind them with a mortar and pestle would make a good you-tube comedy – not one of the seeds were ground; instead they popped out all over the counter like a flea circus. The whole dry seeds are extremely hard and also have a static charge – not easy to chase and gather them back up.
   Ground chia is one of several substitution possibilities for replacing egg in baked goods for vegans or for those folks with egg allergy. Sprouted chia seeds can be used in salads and for sandwiches as well as on your Chia Pet.

Neglected Bananas
    Four weeks ago I bought bananas to ripen for banana muffins and possibly banana bread. Two batches of those Coconut Banana Muffins later and there were still four v-e-r-y ripe bananas hanging out in the guest room. So this afternoon I conjured up a new recipe that I had been thinking about, put it together, and I’ll post about it tomorrow. It’s been quite a long day in the kitchen.

Mom

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