Gluten-free Dairy-free Wholegrain Indian Naan Flatbread Recipe

January 7th, 2012 yum Posted in Bread, Brown Rice, Dairy Free, Eggs, Indian, Indian Flatbread, JM friendly, coconut 15 Comments »

This past month has been intense. *Warning- I’m afraid the following is a bit of a “Mommy blog” entry, so feel free to skip to the end for this really super-yummy recipe.* I have to admit that for a few weeks, Mommy stress dominated my life. In order to get some much-needed time to work on my dissertation, we started Toddler Yum at a daycare. Almost instantly, she came down with a tummy bug that dragged on for about a month, through missed days at daycare, Christmas at the grandparents in Colorado, and even into the New Year. Toddler Yum also discovered that she absolutely hated her daycare, especially during the two and a half hour nap time at mid-day when she was not remotely tired. Separation anxiety loomed large and resulted in her following me around like a puppy dog, clinging to my hand or neck or any other body part she could reach, and her biggest dread was being “by myself” as she put it. “I be by myself? Mommy go bye-bye?” she anxiously asked whenever it seemed likely. She cried when I left her at daycare, she cried when I left her with her loving grandparents (who were a little heartbroken), she cried when she woke up, when I walked out of the room… It just wasn’t working. She asked about nap-time at the daycare over and over, saying that she wanted mommy to be there and that she hated nap-time because it was boring, and dark, and she had to be quiet. I could hardly blame her. I remember nap-time in kindergarten myself as a incredibly tedious and ill-timed affair. So, the first step was to stop taking her during nap-time. This helped, but it still didn’t feel right. The kids ate cookies every afternoon… one afternoon their “special snack” was oreos and cheetos on a plate together. The institutional hot meals all the kids got for lunch smelled like fake margarine and a bad cafeteria, and the kids seemed like little lost puppies. So, I promised Toddler Yum to start looking for a new place that would be better for her, and once the schools resumed after the New Year holiday, that is exactly what we did. We visited between one to two schools a day until we found a place where she could attend in the afternoon after nap and had plenty of fun toys, the teachers did circle time and gave fun lessons, there were “baby potties” in easy access to the classroom, and even “baby cars” to ride around in the outside playground. Toddler Yum will start on Monday. And in the meantime, we’ve been reading Toddler Yum’s favorite new book, “Llama Llama Misses Mama” all about Llama Llama’s trials and tribulations on his first day at a new school missing mama. We’ve been stressing the part where “Llama Mama comes back” and I think that is helping as well. For her last day at her old school, I tried something I’d read about in the The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution book by Elizabeth Pantley- I drew “my” face on Toddler Yum’s hand and told her that if she got lonely or missed her Mommy, all she had to do was look at her “mini mama” on her hand and remember that her mama loves her and will come back to get her. It really seemed to help.

So- with a bit of our life squared away, hopefully I’ll be able to get some serious work done on my dissertation and even find time to develop new recipes here. You may have seen my old recipe for A gluten-free wholegrain Indian Naan. It called for yogurt, greek yogurt specifically (European yogurt is too runny). But this wouldn’t work for anyone on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, and my little dairy-free Toddler Yum couldn’t have it either. I thought it would be interesting to play with the flour blend more, and to try using coconut cream instead of yogurt. To supplement the coconut milk, I used the new Pacific original hazelnut milk which they sent me to review. (Toddler Yum is a big fan of the stuff, and I don’t mind it even though I don’t generally care for hazelnuts.) To my delight, it worked perfectly and might even be better than the original! It went beautifully with some of my favorite toor dal (I use peanut oil, coconut oil, or mustard oil instead of ghee to make the Ghee Tarka variation). These naan can also be sliced in half and filled with whatever filling you like. This makes a small but filling recipe that is hardly more difficult than pancakes and a lot more interesting! *Note: because I have an annoying gas oven, it is hard to estimate how long it would take on an electric oven. Start with the given time and then, if it isn’t done enough, extend (non broiler) baking time in five minute increments.

Gluten-free Dairy Free Wholegrain Coconut Naan
1/2 Cup Brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
3 tbsp. amaranth flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons dried active yeast
1 can full-fat coconut milk WITHOUT thickeners like Chaokoh (chilled but NOT shaken)
1/2 cup hazelnut or other non-dairy milk
1 egg, whisked

Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 500F.

Combine dry ingredient in a medium-large bowl from brown rice flour through baking powder, and whisk to combine.

Collect the coconut CREAM that has risen to the top of the chilled coconut milk can first in a liquid measuring cup. I use a large spoon but you may also have good luck with a small spatula. For the last bit I poured the milk through a fine strainer and collected the cream remained on top of the strainer. I had about 3/4 cup coconut cream in my can. Combine thin coconut milk with hazelnut milk or other non dairy milk to have a cup of liquid. Warm the thin liquid in a microwave until barely warm. If you heat it so that it is hot rather than warm, just let it sit until lukewarm. Whisk sugar into your warm dairy-free milk and then add your yeast. When it foams, pour into your bowl with the dry ingredients. Then add your coconut cream and whisked egg and fold together. You should have a fairly thick batter that is not runny but not firm enough to pick up with your hands.

Spoon out large rounds of dough onto your parchment paper about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch high. (Or smaller, to your preference. Larger may be difficult to manage.) Smooth out top with a large spoon. If you like you can dampen your hands with water and make the tops really silky and smooth.

Bake in the oven on 500F until golden brown. In my rather freakish gas oven, it took about 15 minutes but yours may take less time so watch carefully. Then I finished them off under the broiler for a little extra browning. Watch them like a hawk during this step! Golden brown is one thing and char-grilled is quite another.

These were amazingly soft and fluffy. The coconut flavor was nice and subtle without overpowering the recipe, and I was surprised by how nice the touch of amaranth was for making them taste whole-grain. Yummy with toor dal!!!
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Raw Foods Honey Lavender, Kiwi Strawberry Un-cheesecake Recipe

April 13th, 2011 yum Posted in Blog Event, Dairy Free, Egg Free, JM friendly, Raw Food, Rice Free, Soy Free, Sugar free, Vegan Option, coconut 19 Comments »

I had so much fun participating in Nicola’s detox January, I could not wait to participate in Brittany of Real Sustenance’s April in the Raw blog event. Lately I’ve been enjoying experimenting with raw foods, and her event offered the perfect opportunity to try some ideas I’d had for a raw cheesecake.

The entries for the first week of the event look amazing and I am greatly looking forward to see the other divine entries.

For my entry, I wanted to try to create a delicious cheesecake like the ones I’ve enjoyed at Cafe Gratitude, an amazing raw foods cafe based in the San Francisco- Berkeley area. They now have a small cafe in my local Cupertino Whole Foods, yay! I found a lot of interesting recipes online that provided the inspiration for my recipe, but I wanted to do something a little different. I was initially thinking of making a strawberry or blueberry cheesecake, but as I stepped out the door of my house, I happened to see the lavender plant that I planted next to the door. I love lavender and use it every chance I can, either in body products (I love Dr. Bronner’s)), or in my natural housecleaning supplies. I add a few drops of essential oil in the vinegar and water I use to mop the floor, and drip a few into baking soda to use as a good carpet or couch deodorizer. Not unexpectedly, I also love lavender in food, whether it is delicately flavoring sugar cookies, ice cream, or chocolate. It is yummy however you use it. And so, when I saw this lavender plant on my doorstop with its beautiful small purple flowers, I thought- how beautiful would a mini-cheesecake be, drizzled in a little raw honey and festooned with lavender blossoms. Although I was inspired, I’m a fickle girl and wanted an assortment of flavors, so I still went to the grocery store and picked up some fresh fruit.

I started the recipe last night by soaking almonds and cashews overnight. Even though it is difficult for me to plan ahead enough to do this, I always enjoy the process of setting ingredients out to soak. It makes me feel half like Laura Ingalls Wilder and half like a witch preparing ingredients for some magical potion. This morning I made the almond nut milk and set it in a carton in the refrigerator, after sipping a little as a treat. The box stuff has nothing on the homemade almond milk! I cracked open my bottle of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil that Tropical Traditions had sent me free as a promotion. Woo hoo! Yay for free coconut oil! Next I made my molds for the cheesecake. I didn’t have springform pans that would have made it easy, so what I did was tape removable tart bottoms to my english muffin rings. Then I ground up pecans and date and pressed them into the tart pans as the crust. I put the crust in the refrigerator, made my filling, and then started playing with my fresh fruit and local, raw honey and lavender blossoms.

Ultimately I ended up making a very fun strawberry-kiwi raw cheesecake, mango cheesecake, and a blueberry topped cheesecake with a surprise. I enjoyed each flavor, but the honey lavender cheesecake was my hands down favorite. Sometimes honey has a little too much personality, but since the same is true of lavender, when they are put together somehow they harmonize to make something much more mellow. I could eat this cheesecake every day, if it weren’t for the fact that it requires me to think ahead to soak the nuts. Eating fresh flower blossoms always makes me feel like I’m dining on fairy food. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Gluten-free Raw Cashew Cheesecake with Pecan Date Crust
1 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup soaked medjool dates
shredded raw coconut

3 cups cashews (soaked for at least 4 hours)
1/4 cup pine nuts (soaked for at least 30 minutes)
1/2 cup freshly made almond milk*
1/2 cup raw honey or agave (for almost-raw)
2/3 cup raw coconut oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1-2 sun-dried vanilla bean, cut open and scraped out OR 2 or 3 tsp. vanilla (for almost-raw)
sea salt to taste

6 mini springform pans OR english muffin rings taped to cardboard or metal circles OR silicon muffin liners work too but give a less cheesecake-like shape

Sprinkle shredded coconut in the bottom of each small springform pan. Then put your pecans and dates in the food processor and process until you have a sticky, crumbly dough. Pat it into the bottom of your pans but not up the sides. Put your pans in the refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Drain and rinse your cashews and pine nuts. Put in blender with the rest of your ingredients and process until smooth. If you have too much in your blender for one batch, you can separate it and process it in two batches until smooth and then combine them. Pour the filling into your individual cheesecake molds and put the molds in the freezer to firm up- about 3 or 4 hours.

Honey Lavender Un-cheesecake: Use raw honey as your sweetener for the filling. Sprinkle top with fresh lavender flowers or sprigs and dabs of honey as desired.

Strawberry Kiwi Un-cheesecake:
top with chopped fresh strawberry and kiwi

Blueberry Sauce Un-cheesecake:
after the cheesecake has been in the freezer an hour or two and is firm, use a knife so that it is no longer attached to the sides of the mold. Top with blueberry sauce and put back in freezer to harden. Reserve some sauce for drizzling later if you like.

Mango Un-cheesecake:
Top with slices of fresh mango.

*To serve, remove cheesecake from the freezer and carefully slide a knife around the edges of the mold so it is no longer attached to the side. gently remove from mold and then leave out at room temperature for 20 minutes or so (or put in refrigerator) until texture approximates cheesecake and is no longer frozen solid.

*I made a batch of almond milk by soaking 1 1/3 cup of raw almonds overnight, rinsing them and blending with 2 cups of filtered water until you have a smooth creamy liquid. Then I strained the liquid in tea straining bags (or nut bags, if you have them) and added some (optional) vanilla scrapings. Delicious, and you’ll have more than you need for this recipe!
Blueberry Sauce with a secret ingredient
1 1/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, defrosted and rinsed)
1/2 avocado
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine in food processor, blend and chill. Serve on vegan nut cream or raw cheesecake.
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