Modifying Original Recipes to Fit Your Needs!

A blog about healthy eating, healthy living and happiness. Join me and I'll show you how easy it is to substitute, modify and enhance your favorite recipes to accommodate your special diet, all without missing a thing!

January 26, 2012

Savory Herb Amaranth Crackers

Can I just say... I love crackers. What better way to satisfy hunger than with something crunchy, savory with garlic and herb flavors, yet a hint of sweetness... I'm talking about a cracker of course!

If you haven't noticed through my recent posts... I'm on a bit of a cracker streak right now. The first ones I made - Wannabe Wheat Thins, Gluten Free! - kicked off this cracker train and let me tell you... this is one heck of a trip.

I've amazed myself at the art of creating a crunchy, normal-tasting cracker that is, of course, gluten and dairy free. There is something so... empowering... about creating a recipe that really works! (See blog title... no pun intended ;-) )

I stumbled upon this Savory Crackers recipe in my search for graham crackers. I of course saved it to my recipe bookmarks (yes, I do have a folder specifically for recipes - several in fact that are organized by snack, meals, breakfast, dessert, etc.) for a "free time, stress relieving" Saturday. I have been trying to exclude rice from some of my snacking options so I modified this recipe just a tad to come up with the most incredible gluten free cracker.

I think I've drawn you in enough so here it is... Savory Herb Amaranth Crackers...

Dry Ingredients
1/2 c amaranth flour
1/4 c tapioca starch
1/2 tsp zanthan gum
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp herb de provence
3/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted slightly on a small fry pan)

Wet Ingredients
2 tbsp oil (I used half grapeseed oil, half olive oil)
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp unsweetened soymilk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Combine dry ingredients through sesame seeds. Slightly toast seeds in a small fry pan over low heat, watch carefully so they don't burn! They are ready when they begin to turn golden and are fragrant - add to the rest of the dry ingredients. Whisk together the wet ingredients and mix into the dry ingredients until fully incorporated and a ball of dough has formed.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour your work surface and roll the ball of dough in the flour (I used teff flour for this but amaranth works fine too). Roll out the dough until it is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick (adding more flour as need to avoid sticking). Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into a rectangle shape with straight edges, then proceed to cut small squares (about the size of wheat thins), puncture with a fork 2-3 times on each square and transfer squares to your prepared baking sheet. Reshape the imperfect dough (this is the leftover dough that was outside of your initial rectangle) into a ball and repeat the process until you have used all of the dough. (You may end up with a few imperfect cracker shapes but these are the ones you test before showing people! heehee). Bake for about 12 minutes, then check for doneness. the crackers from the outside of your rectangle will cook faster - these usually end up thinner than the others. If this is the case remove these crackers and place on a cooling rack, then place the rest of the crackers back in the oven until done (this may take up to 5 more minutes). Once all crackers are finished let fully cool on a wire rack and store in a bowl on the counter for easy-access munching. (I believe the crackers retain their crunch-factor much better when stored in an open bowl rather than an airtight container.)

Now... to provide you with even more greatness I calculated the serving size and nutrition information.

What's that you say?? Thank you?!

Oh, no problem! You're so very welcome! (she says with a smirk)

This recipe makes about 38 crackers for 3 servings (give or take a few crackers)
One serving = 12 crackers
228 calories
24g carbs
4g protein
2.5g fiber

*If you are worried that 228 calories seems a lot for only 12 crackers just remember, homemade crackers are always thicker and denser than the store-bought variety. Also, the primary flour used is amaranth which is a very healthy grain filled with protein and fiber to keep you full and satisfied.

Well, there you have it! Enjoy these crackers and only share a few... they are too good to give away!

The PERFECT bite size snack!

January 22, 2012

Divine Chia Breakfast Pudding

Happy Birthday! Since today is my golden birthday... turning 22 on the 22nd day of January in the year of 2012... it seemed appropriate to give you a gift today. That's right... I'm giving you two recipes in this post. Yeah, it's happening.

I have seen several recipes for some variation of chia pudding, but the true inspiration came from Leanne over at the Healthful Persuit. I've mentioned her blog before and have recreated a few of her incredible recipes... that just goes to show that when you have an amazing blog, inspiring recipes and the most beautiful photography - you will get repeat visitors ;-)

I've long known the benefits of chia seeds and decided that eating them more frequently might help with my digestive issues. While I'm back in school for my final semester (yessss!), it has been a challenge to remember to add chia to my food on a daily basis, which is why incorporating a full serving at breakfast is the perfect way to go!

Okay... enough babble? Here are the two recipes as promised...

Banana Almond Chia Breakfast Pudding
1 banana
1/4 c vanilla almond milk (or use plain if you prefer)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp sunbutter

optional toppings:
fresh blueberries
dried fruit

*Prepare the night before you plan on eating.
In a small bowl, mash half the banana (reserve the other half for the morning, store in the refrigerator overnight). Add the almond milk, chia and sunbutter and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. The next morning, slice the other half of the banana on top of your pudding, add some fresh blueberries and a few dashes of cinnamon. Enjoy cold or briefly heat in the microwave.

Chocolate Banana Chia Breakfast Pudding
1 banana
1/4 c chocolate soymilk (Silk is my go-to brand)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp cashew butter

optional toppings:
fresh berries
dried fruit

*Prepare the night before you plan on eating.
In a small bowl, mash half the banana (reserve the other half for the morning, store in the refrigerator overnight). Add the soymilk, chia seeds and cashew butter and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. The next morning, slice the other half of the banana on top of your pudding, add your other toppings of choice and enjoy! (I added dried cherries, cinnamon and a bit of flax cereal - delish!) This was delightful cold but feel free to heat briefly in the microwave if you are more of a warm breakfast person.

I hope you enjoy these two variations and please have fun creating your own versions! My next upcoming pudding will be made with vanilla hemp milk and perhaps a mix of nut butters.. keep checking back for that recipe ;-)

January 10, 2012

Wannabe Wheat Thins, Gluten Free!

I. Am. In. Love.

I. Am. Motivated.

I. Am. Capable.

I. Am. Creative.


I thought I'd start out this post by giving you a little taste of how I'm feeling right now. As I was doing my nightly recipe search (yes, this is what I do in my free time) I found this wonderful thing on the Peas and Thank You website - Wannabe Recipe: Goldfish Crackers.

I was so excited about making these and knew I had to make them ASAP. So after a fun morning of working from home and playing tennis with the boyfriend in our sunny Colorado weather... I got home and decided... today is the day!

Looking over the original recipe I saw I only needed to make a few changes. And guess what... the dough came out perfectly! I've tried several recipes in which you are required to make a dough and roll it out... but what usually ends up happening is the dough is too sticky to be rolled out... leaving me upset and frustrated, forced to turn out an end product that is well... not so perfect.

Needless to say I felt pretty good about how these crackers would turn out.

Here is the original recipe, and here is the recipe with my modifications:

1/2 c all purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 c amaranth flour
just over 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c Diaya Mozzarella Shreds (or use real shredded cheese if you tolerate dairy)
1/4 c melted margarine (or vegan margarine, or butter)
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
4 tbsp warm water

I used my blender for this but decided it would be a better idea to use your food processor... (my ingredients jammed at the bottom of the blender, allowing for mediocre blending).

Blend/process the flours, xanthan gum and salt. Add the "cheese" and blend/process to combine. (Here is where you can continue using the blender/processor, or transfer to a bowl.) Add margarine and mustard to create a dry and somewhat lumpy batter. (If you haven't yet, transfer mix to a bowl now.) Add one tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture comes together to form a dough that will not stick to the sides of your bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a large piece of parchment paper on your work surface and dust with flour (I used the all purpose flour here), also patting some flour on your hands and your rolling pin. Form the dough into a ball shape, place on the parchment paper and roll around in the flour to coat. Begin carefully rolling out the dough until you've reach about a 1/4 inch thickness. Use a pizza cutter to make a clean line around the edges, picking up the uneven dough (you'll roll this out in a minute). Score the rectangle shape of dough to make cracker size squares. Repeat this process with the leftover dough, doing the best you can to make little squares, or roll it out flat, cut it however you want and eat those as your test crackers when they come out ;-) Use your pinkie finger to mark each cracker or score with a fork once or twice (I found the fork method kept the crackers flatter and didn't let them puff up as some of the others did using the pinkie method).

Bake the crackers for 14 minutes. Remove the crackers around the edges (they'll cook faster than the others). Continue cooking the rest of the crackers until lightly browned on the edges and the bottom, about 5 -7 minutes. (You can skip this step if you want a less crunchy cracker). When all crackers are done, let cool on the baking sheet or start enjoying them right away (you bet this is what I did!)

My halved recipe made about 62 crackers (about 4 servings), and here is how the nutrition facts came out...

15 crackers (one serving)
165 calories
3 g fiber
3 g protein
8 g fat

I hope you are as thrilled with these crackers as I am, and be sure to look for more upcoming cracker recipes... I've already written down a Graham Cracker version of this recipe... stay tuned!

January 7, 2012

Fluffy Light Cake Doughnuts

Let me first explain to you how wonderful a gloomy and cloudy day can become when you give a girl a doughnut pan, all the gluten and dairy free products she needs and an imagination.

Today is Saturday... I'm in the middle of my winter break so I have absolutely no school work to fuss over (so wonderful!), I have no plans of errands or cleaning since I did all of that yesterday, my only real plan for the day is to get in a good workout (at some point). With all of these factors in place... what better thing to do than get creative and come up with my own doughnut recipe?!

Side note...

For Christmas this year almost all of the presents I received are items meant for the kitchen. And ya know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. My boyfriend's mom gave me a doughnut pan (yes, it was on my list). I opened it and was ecstatic! I know what you're thinking ... "Who gets ecstatic over a doughnut pan?" Well...


So what else was there for me to do but to find a gluten free, dairy free, egg free and yeast free recipe to put my new pan to use. I set out on my search and without much trouble at all I came across these babies... Vegan Baked Pumpkin Spiced Cake Doughnuts from the Cinnamon Quill blog. I followed the recipe to the tee (using vanilla hemp milk) and they came out fabulous.

Although a bit crumbly, they were dense and filling enough to accompany an egg and banana as a breakfast. They were delicious as a snack heated in the microwave or taken right out of the fridge. The texture was a bit grainy, which can be expected with many gluten free flours. The flavor resembled pumpkin pie mixed with your favorite breakfast muffin. I ate one right away... then another half the next day as I was so graciously sharing them with my family, and another the next morning with my breakfast. As you can see they quickly disappeared, which is exactly what led me to today's creation.

My mind wandered as I searched for many other similar recipes... comparing flours and amounts of ingredients. I decided to be bold and create my own recipe based off of the many others I'd found. Here is what you'll need for these lovely little delights...

1/4 c + 2 tbsp vanilla hemp milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice (I use Santa Cruz organic lemon juice from the jar)

1/4 c oat flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1/2 c tapioca starch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 c pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
2 tbsp shortening (room temperature)

EnerG Egg Replacer for 1 egg (whisk until frothy)

For the Topping
2 tbsp butter
Mixture of cinnamon & sugar

To Make Your Doughnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray doughnut pan with canola oil and set aside. Combine hemp milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside. Grind 1/4 cup gluten free oats in your food processor (or use store bought oat flour if you have it). Add the rest of the dry ingredients (through cinnamon) and process until combined. Pour dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Add the hemp milk, pumpkin puree, shortening and egg replacer to the processor and blend until well mixed. Add the dry ingredients back to the wet ingredients and process until smooth. Using a small spoon add the batter to the doughnut pan, filling each about 3/4 full (or until you've used all the batter). Smooth the tops with the back of your spoon and bake in the center of your oven for 15 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness, if it comes out clean they are done. Let the doughnuts cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then gently place on a cooling rack. 

Melt the butter in a small bowl and lightly brush over the top of each doughnut. One by one, set each doughnut in the mixture of cinnamon and sugar so that the tops are lightly coated. Continue to let the doughnuts rest on the cooling rack until fully cooled. Store in an airtight container for a delightful snack, breakfast, dessert or however you so choose to enjoy them.

I must admit, when I took these out of the pan and felt how delicate they were, I was a bit nervous. I continued on with the topping, took my pictures and then took the first bite. Oh. My. Goodness. I couldn't believe how perfect these turned out! I took another bite carefully breaking down the fluffy, light, melt-in-your-mouth texture, the pumpkin undertone and the slight sweetness from the cinnamon sugar topping. These are stunning in every sense. Who knew doughnuts could bring so much joy?

I'll leave you with this last thought...

I always say that you should learn something new every day. It doesn't have to be monumental, it doesn't have to be something that would "wow" anyone, just take a chance and learn something every single day. Today, I learned two things ~ 

The first ... I learned how to make homemade, delightfully fluffy and delicious baked doughnuts using my own recipe. The second ...

baking makes me extremely happy.

January 4, 2012

Crunchy Pure Granola

I must admit I am quite proud of myself for this one... I looked at a few past granola recipes I had made in my pre "free-diet" life and came up with this one on the spot. And ya know what? It's delicious!

My roommate even commented, "Did you make that?" Why yes I did. "It looks like something from like a... kit or... like you bought it in a store." Aw, thanks Nick! ;-)

I'm going to give you a brief warning that this is the approximate recipe... I didn't really measure but somehow the recipe turned out great. That just goes to show you can't really mess this up, so give it a try!

3/4 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c chopped cashews
1/3 c gluten free oats
1/4 c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 - 2 tbsp flax seed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c crunchy flax cereal

1/4 c applesauce
2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1 tbsp walnut oil (any oil will work)

To Prepare
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Mix the nuts, oats, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and cinnamon in a bowl. Heat the applesauce, maple syrup and oil in a small pan until well incorporated. Add the applesauce mix to the dry ingredients and stir until all ingredients are coated. Spread onto the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, stir the granola and continue baking for 5 more minutes. Add the crunchy flax cereal to the granola, stir, and continue baking for 3 minutes. (These time estimates are rough... each time you take out the granola take a small sample to test the crunch factor. If you like your granola very crunchy you may end up baking for longer, but be sure to add the extra time before you add the crunchy flax cereal, as it will burn if baked for too long. Also, keep in mind that as the granola cools it will get more crunchy.) Let granola fully cool on the baking sheet and store in a glass jar or air tight container. Enjoy as a snack on the go, or my favorite, top soy yogurt with berries, granola and banana chips - the ultimate breakfast parfait!

Quinoa Anytime Bars

I thought it was about time I posted this recipe, seeing as how I have made it oh... probably about 5 times now.

Side note: I should also mention that I have proudly eaten all of these bars myself. #oh yea#

This recipe came from the lovely Gluten Free Goddess, only she calls these bars Quinoa Breakfast Brownies. I changed the name for this post because I feel that these bars are so delicious, mouth-watering, and filled with healthy quinoa that they should not be restricted to only breakfast.

I'm not going to post the actual recipe here because every time I make them I follow the recipe exactly except for a few minor modifications...

*reduce the brown sugar by 1/3 cup
*I always half the recipe and bake in an 8 x 8 baking dish (cut into 9 pieces)
*agave nectar can easily be used in place of the maple syrup (I almost prefer the agave)
*vanilla extract rather than powder
*I love adding raisins and chopped walnuts, and for even more oomph chop up a few squares of high quality dark chocolate (or use dairy free chocolate chips)

That's it! I told you the modifications were few. The reason is because this recipe truly is fool proof, no matter what substitutions or additions you make these bars will turn out incredible and you'll be hooked on making them every time your stash in the freezer runs out (yes... I'm speaking from experience).

So go ahead and visit the Gluten Free Goddess, make these bars and fall in love with all of Karina's wonderful recipes!

My new favorite bedtime snack... quinoa bar with Justin's peanut butter (or Sunbutter), roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and oh yea raisins because ironically I forgot to add them to the batch this time - shoot!