Pizooki’s! (kind of) and Reflections

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The first time I ever saw a dessert recipe with garbanzo beans as the replacement for flour, I was skeptical. That was when my friend Ali posted this recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Since then, that cookie recipe has become an all time favorite in this house, and every person who’s ever happened to be over when I made them was totally impressed and really enjoyed them.

I think that a lot of times people treat recipes kind of like how people treat traditions. You don’t want to change them because…well this is how it’s always been done. The first example that popped into my head actually, was how so many people within churches don’t want to see change in the structure, music, etc., believing that the way things are done (and have been done for the past 80 or so years) are biblicly based. Sometimes upon deeper reflection, it becomes evident that the basis is less Scripture, and more tradition.

So anyway, the point of that silly analogy is this: I’ve come to realize, through my eating restrictions, that I am not actually at all restricted. There are limitless replacements for all the basic staples of baking: flour, eggs, sugar, and milk to name a few. Nearly every plant can be dried and ground to make a flour. There is corn flour, potato flour, garbanzo flour, coconut flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and more. For every recipe, refined sugars can be replaced with honey, palm sugar, date sugar, coconut sugar, etc. And any visit to the grocery store will reveal the every expanding variety of dairy free milk alternatives.

Discovering I had so many food allergies was one of the most devastating things to ever learn, initially. Yet so much good came out of it. I was forced to get creative, forced to try things I would have never even been interested in, and as a result, my eating habits became immensely, if not extremely, (not to mention accidentally) healthy.

This month is one year exactly since I’ve gone gluten, dairy, soy, and refined sugar free*. I was reflecting on this last week and I realized that these restrictions were ironically liberating. I used to hate food/eating because it was my enemy, I was sick after nearly every meal I ever ate. It is amazing because soon after I found out about my dietary restrictions, I started writing my thesis paper for my undergrad degree on food as a gift. What followed was a major paradigm shift. The synthesis of studying food theology, philosophy, aesthetics, and sociology, while simultaneously in my day to day/meal to meal life practicing new eating habits, I was beginning to have a new experience with food. Food no longer made me sick. Food still actually tasted good. Really healthy food could be more tasteful than anything I’d ever eaten before. (I didn’t actually even set out to eat healthy initially, I just set out to eat something out of all the seemingly “nothing” that I was aloud to eat.) Eating was not only enjoyable, but was right. Humans are made to enjoy this gift.

All this to say, today I came across another desert recipe with garbanzo beans. Desserts like this sound “gross” to some people…which inspires me all the more to make it. It was a recipe for a pan chocolate chip cookie “pie”, but I tweeked it a lot to make it double chocolaty aaaand added “ice cream” to go on top because then it’s like a pizooki! And I haven’t had a real pizooki in like 6 years.

Below are two parts to this post, one with the pan cookie recipe, and the second with the banana chocolate ice cream/cold frosting thing. Enjoy!

*(I’m not actually allergic to refined sugar, so when I’m out and there are allergen free food options with refined sugar ingredients, I do eat them. I just never bake/cook with it.)

Part I: Pan Cookie

Double Chocolate Chip Flour Free Pan Cookie

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cans (15oz) garbanzo/chickpea beans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used flaxmilk)
  • 1 tbs almond extract
  • 3 tbs oil (I used coconut)
  • 6 tbs pure honey
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup coco powder
  • 1 cup oats (certified gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a food processor, blend the garbanzo beans, applesauce, milk, almond extract, oil, and honey and blend until smooth.

Next add the baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder pulsing the food processor between ingredients so as to ensure it is well mixed.

Add the oats and coconut and process again until mixed. Lastly add the chocolate chips and mix.

Scoop/pour mixture into a prepared baking dish (I used a square 8×8 one, but I actually recomend using a slightly bigger one so the cookie batter can be spread thinner, and the final result is more like a cookie and less like a brownie or cake in thickness) and bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

When it’s finished let it cool for at least 15 minutes so it can set.

Part II: Banana Chocolate “Ice Cream”

There is nothing icey or creamy about this recipe really. I’ve been seeing all these pinterest recipes lately for these easy ice cream or milk shake recipes involving bananas and cocoa powder. While I was making dinner, I thought about how I should have bought some frozen yogurt to go with the chocolaty dessert that I could smell cooking in the oven. Then I remembered that I had two very ripe bananas in the freezer that I’d frozen a few days back to keep from going to waste. There was the answer: the time had come to try one of those pinterest recipes. However, I was too lazy to try and scroll through all the photos, compare recipes, and find the one I had all the ingredients on hand for. I’ve read them plenty of times anyway…so I made this one up and it turned out delicious. Unfortunately, and as per usual, I didn’t really use measuring tools while throwing this together. So in the recipe below I’ve estimated the measurements to the following ingredients.

(Note: In order for the ice cream to be ready in collaboration with the pan cookies, I recommend starting it as soon as the cookie goes in the oven or even before making the cookie)

Banana Chocolate “Ice Cream”

Ingredients:

  • 2 very ripe bananas (frozen or not-this will just affect how long it has to be frozen afterwards to set)
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used flaxmilk)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend well until smooth. Pour into a bowl and put in the freezer until firm.

Scoop out like normal ice cream and enjoy over the pan cookie recipe above, or just by itself.

Sweet Greens Kiwi and Ginger Juice

Last fall for my school newspaper, I wrote an article here about the benefits and uses of ginger root. Ginger helps a lot of things such pain, healthy blood flow, stomach issues, and more.

A couple days ago I felt as if my body would benefit from some ginger, and I hadn’t had any in a while. So I made this ginger juice drink. It was VERY gingery, but I love ginger so it was delicious. When you make it, add more or less ginger according to preference. I’m always amazed by how much more energy and vitality I have after drinking a fresh glass of juice, and this case was no exception.

Juicing, more an anything else, has shown me the amazing healing and sustaining properties of whole foods, and vegetables. I’m not really a vegetable eater unless I’m really intentional about it, so juicing works perfect for me, as a way to get the amount of fruits and vegetables each day that I need. I love it.

Sweet Greens Kiwi Ginger Juice

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 large leaves of kale
  • 1 inch long (more or less) nob of ginger
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 large apple
  • 2 drops liquid stevia concentrate

Directions:
Begin by juicing the spinach and kale. Next juice the ginger, kiwi, and last the apple. Add the drops of stevia to the juice and whisk to mix. Add some ice, if you’d like, and enjoy the benefits of greens, ginger, and fruit!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls Made From Coconut Flour

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Yesterday was a long day. Dane and I were both pretty exhausted and I, being indecisive as always, was debating what exactly to cook for dinner right up until dinner time. On top of that, I had a late lunch, so when dinner time rolled around I wasn’t even hungry at all. Dane however was starving, and even though I wasn’t hungry, I’d been wanting something chocolatey and sweet for a few days. So, while Dane snacked around in the fridge, I procrastinated making dinner….by making cookies.

Dane ended up doing most of the work though, because he really wanted to help me…

Now is confession time: I love love baking and cooking in the kitchen. It is relaxing to me, a time of quiet solitude to combine ingredients, colors, and textures, and making something healthy, and tasteful. I love working on a meal, then when its finished it all gets taken out to the table and people, whether its just Dane, or Dane and some guests, delight over it. Cooking is a fulfilling and creative outlet for me. The thing is…I like to do it alone. When other people “help” me, it usually stresses me out: whether its their not knowing what to do, questioning what I’m doing and how, or just making loud exclamations and noises. Anyway, I know that I get annoyed, grumpy, and stressed WAY too easily, so this time I really wanted to accept Danes help and try to keep myself calm…he wanted to spend time together after our long day, relaxing in the kitchen, and of course I wanted to spend time together too.

This might have been one of our most successful collaborations in the kitchen ever. I only got a little bit annoyed, and then got over it really quickly. Dane stood by the mixer, measuring and adding the ingredients while I read off the recipe and brought the ingredients to him. Then he rolled the first half of the batch onto the cookie sheet while I cleaned, until, being a perfectionist, he was driven crazy by rolling these perfect little balls of dough and we switched tasks. While they baked, Dane seared some meat on the stove (Dane is the BEST at searing meat) and I threw together a salad. By the time the cookies were done, dinner was done, so we went out to our back porch and ate, then came inside and watched a (really disappointing  movie over cookies and milk. At least the cookies were awesome. And the evening was slow and relaxing, in the company of each other- just what we needed.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pure honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup dairy & soy free chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F
In a mixer or a large bowl, add the eggs and mix, then add the coconut oil, honey, and almond extract and mix again.
Then add the dry ingredients: coconut flour, shredded coconut, and choco chips.
Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on a prepared baking sheet.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
Remove from oven, cool, and enjoy with dairy free milk alternative (we had it with flaxmilk)

ps-the recipe was adapted from here

6 Cartons of Strawberries

Yesterday I found myself with 6 cartons of strawberries in the fridge.

On Monday, I wanted to juice some beets that I had, but I hate the taste of beets, so I wanted to juice lots of strawberries with it to cover the flavor. They were buy one get one free so I took two. Tuesday they were a dollar. I never buy strawberries cuz they’re pretty pricey, but on this rare occasion, I bought.. four more cartons. Hence Wednesday=6 cartons strawberries

So yesterday, I got home from work and set out to find some strawberry related recipes, so as to not let the strawberries go to waste. With only Dane and me, 6 cartons of strawberries weren’t just going to disappear overnight, (or before they went bad) without some help. I went a bit crazy. I made strawberry popsicles, strawberry scones, strawberry macaroons ..and then for dinner we had salmon, and strawberry salad.

The salad was amazing.  I don’t usually like salads with fruit in them, they’ve never been my thing. I was really skeptical of this recipe, but hey, I had like a million strawberries to use up, so I decided to try it out. It turned out to be probably the BEST salad I’d ever had. I’m not even really a salad person, but Dane and I were both really really happy with how this one turned out.

The other really exciting part of this salad was that this was the first time our garden had grown enough that that I didn’t have to go to the store for the mixed greens, I just went outside and picked them! The mix included spinach, three kinds of kale, and two kinds of chard. This small delight was so fulfilling.

I was missing some ingredients and added a few from the original recipe I was somewhat following, so below is my adaptation.

Strawberry Season Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups mix salad greens of your choice
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 (or however many you prefer) strawberries, leaves removed and sliced
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz can black beans
  • 1 avacado
  • 1/4 cup sheep cheese grated or cut
  • 2 tbs flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup soy free veganaise
  • 1 tbs red wine vinager
  • 3 drops stevia concentrate

Directions:

Put water in a small pan over the stove and bring to a boil. Add quinoa, put on low heat and simmer for 10 to 15 min. When it’s done, put it in the fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, mix the veganaise, vinager, and stevia in a small bowl and set aside.

Wash salad greens and other vegetables. Sprinkle the black beans, strawberries, and goat cheese over the greens. Add the quinoa. Add the remaining ingredients.

Pour the dressing over it and mix briefly.

Serve and enjoy!

Serves 1-3

Gluten in my…toothpaste?!

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Yesterday I bought some new toothpaste that told me on its packaging that it was gluten free. My first thought was, does toothpaste normally have gluten?? And once again I was blown away by the mass amount of gluten that is found in the most random products. So this blog post is all about my shift that began a few months ago, to not only having a gluten free diet, but also using completely gluten free products.

After going gluten free last May, I immediately felt better within the first few days. Yet, better, I soon realized, was still not quite “good”…whatever that meant. After a few years of feeling sick all the time (migraines, bloating, fatigue, apathy, joint pain, hair thinning, etc, on a daily basis) I had forgotten what it felt like to feel “good.” So it was only when I started to feel better, that I really began searching for every possible way to eat the way I needed to, with the goal of eventually feeling good.

Over the next several months (and this process still continues to this day) I did tons of research, following blogs, reading articles, figuring out what nutrients I was deficient in, taking supplements, making and remaking recipes, trying new ingredients, comparing and contrasting, etc. Surprise after surprise came as I realized just how many things had gluten in them, explaining to me yet again, why I was still feeling sick. For example, I once ate some Hawaian bbq beef, only to realize after taking several bites, that the sauce had teriyaki in it, which has soy sauce in it, which has wheat in it… even though I tried to throw it up, I was sick for the next two weeks. Similarly, my mom always is super excited for me to make Pad Thai and Thai Coconut Curry Soup when I go visit, and one of these times I randomly checked the ingredients to one of the sauces I’d always used, only to see it contained wheat as well! As my researched continued I realized the importance of not eating food that has been contaminated by wheat. So, Dane and I designated the left slot on the toaster for his bread, and the right side for mine. This also began my habit of meticulously wiping down the counter after someone has cut bread, had a cookie, or any gluten containing ingredient that had the possibility if leaving crumbs behind. Also, Dane can’t kiss me after he’s eaten anything containing wheat until he brushes his teeth and has had a lot of water. With each of these gradual changes, I’d say that overall, I’ve steadily been feeling better over the months (especially after the juice cleanse I did in March, which I wrote about here.)

I think a very important factor most recently in my improving health however, has been using gluten free hair and body products. I came across an article (which I now can’t remember the source of unfortunately..) that discussed the presence of gluten in hair and body products. Lots of shampoos, bodywash, lotions, and so on contain gluten ingredients, especially the ones that advertise added proteins, or being volumizing. A lot of shampoos, lotions, and conditioners are not even clearly marked as containing gluten because it is in the fragrances, or the vaguely marked, “other natural ingredients” (or in the case of food, “other natural flavors”). The same day as having read this article ironically, I’d just picked up some organic shampoo from Target. I thought, organic, natural, awesome, but upon reading the ingredients I saw it contained wheat protein as one of the key ingredients…so that was returned. I also read in various places that a lot of powdered make ups have gluten in oat or wheat form. Some supplements and pills even use gluten as a filler or binder. Although its still up in the air the extent to which a gluten intolerant person will be affected by using lotions or shampoo containing wheat, up to 60% of the gluten applied to your skin can be absorbed by the skin and get into the bloodstream. That big of a risk was too much for me, especially since I have celiac disease, I’m not just intolerant. I began a search for healthy, natural, gluten free products. Since the switch, my skin has had better coloring and cleared up a lot, my scalp and hair have not been itchy at all, and overall I have more energy, less headaches, and less stomach aches. I can’t prove that all of this is related, but I do know that everything we put on or in our bodies affect us. So below, I am going to share with you some of what I found.

I contacted Leanne Vogal, author of one of my favorite blogs, Healthful Pursuit. She pointed me to the site for this brand, Green Beaver. They have a line of gluten free products, such as gluten free shampoo and conditioner. I have not tried it, but she recommended it, so I do plan on trying it eventually.

The first shampoo I ended up trying was the Natural Shampoo from Original Sprout. I happened to see it at a small natural foods store, and it was clearly marked on the front as free of parabens, nanoparticles, lavender, tea tree, petroleum oils, musk, propylena, glycol, sulfates, gluten, soy, or dairy. It was a bit pricey (as most gluten free products are, unfortunately) but since I was the only one using it, it lasted me well over a month. I only had to use a small bit (and I have thick hair) and my hair was really clean (but not overly dry). It also had a very enjoyable, clean, subtle scent to it.

The next shampoo that I purchased was from Dessert Essence, who’s products are marked on the back as 100% vegan and wheat/gluten free (as well as biodegradable and cruelty free). I bought the coconut shampoo for normal to dry hair, because I love the smell of coconut. So far, this is a great product as well, and a bit less pricey than the former. I bought mine at Whole Foods, but I’ve seen it at Sprout’s and some grocery stores as well.

The conditioner that I bought, and was really pleased with was Beautiful Curls, leave-in conditioner. This conditioner if marked on the back as wheat, soy and gluten free, vegan, biodegradable, mineral oil free, and synthetic fragrance free. I was quite skeptical of a leave in conditioner, fearing a greasy or “gelled” look. The conditioner was actually great though, my hair didn’t look like I’d gelled it, or like I hadn’t washed it in weeks. This also detangled my ridiculous hair that dreads so easily, far better than most of the conditioners I’d tried before. Not to mention…it smells amazing. After this bottle runs out though, I plan on trying to Dessert Essence conditioner to compare.

From the very beginning of my search I also began looking for gluten free make up. After a lot of searching, I decided to go with Bare Minerals. I’m still not sure if this is the best or the most natural of products out there, but I went with it because I’d used it years before and really enjoyed it, and they have a list on their website of all their gluten free products. I started with this starter kit and so far I’ve been really pleased and my skin has cleared up. I still plan on doing research on the best make up however. Someday I’m also going to try some of these natural make up recipes from the blog “Wellness Mama” found here.

Last but not least, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, I just (accidently) switched to gluten free toothpaste. It is Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste. I have no idea if I’d previously used gluten containing toothpaste, but it does make sense, if it was used as a filler. I’d purchased this one because I’d been intending for a while to find a healthy toothpaste option. The Desert Essence toothpaste is also SLS and fluoride free, so that was the initial attraction. I’d also chosen this toothpaste because it contains tea tree and essential oils that work well for people with sensitive teeth, such as my husband, containing healing properties. So this switch was an advantage for both of us.

That’s all for now. I will update this post as I try new things and review them. This slow shift to healthier living in all aspects of my life has been an exciting process. It began in resentment at my food allergies, and has slowly shifted to a more holistic view of nutrition. What we take in affects our mood, health, appearance and attitude. We are made up of body, soul, mind, spirit and so on. It has been amazing to see the actual change in my own personal life in very tangible ways, through living a clean and natural lifestyle. It is well worth all the meticulous planning, research, and planning, in fact, I’m at a point now where I am passionate about nutrition, and enjoy the topic immensely, and I no longer think of it as the terrible and unfair burden that I saw it as at the beginning of it all.

Salad Fudge Brownies

The words salad and brownies in the title of the same recipe probably sounds like the most disgusting thing you ever heard. Nevertheless, bear with me… the reality is that these brownies are actually not that different from a salad, and they still taste mostly like brownies! Hence the name. Among the primary ingredients are things like black beans, romaine lettuce or spinach, hemp hearts, and almonds. It’s weird, you eat them for desert, and then realize that you just ate another serving of vegetables.

What’s more, they are quite allergy friendly: refined sugar free, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, egg free, and optionally nut free, making them a great option for people with restricted dietary needs (such as myself). .I hope that despite you’re (understandable) skepticism, you might be inspired to give this recipe a try!

How these brownies came into being: One of the first recipes that I made with immediate success after going gluten/soy/dairy free were these “Fudge-Tastic Brownies” found here. It was through this recipe that I realized weird ingredients can make some good brownies. Not only good brownies, but good for you brownies. After that I started experimenting with different brownie recipes, such as this spinach brownie recipe found here. The recipe below is one I kind of put together, adapted from those two recipes, with a few extra things I threw in that I had on hand. They’re pretty delicious, my husband and sister approved (and ate them all, just kidding).

Salad Brownies

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup date puree (this can be made by soaking 12 or so large dates depending on the size, in water for 1 hr, then draining and putting it in a blender/food processor until smooth)
  • a 15 oz can black beans (best unsalted, if you can find it)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce (I have also used spinach as well with success, so I suspect any green lettucy vegetable would work)
  • 2 tbs hemp hearts (optional)
  • I cup almond meal, packed*
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 4 tbs pure honey
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or other milk alternative of choice)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder (I use Clabber Girl, found at most grocery stores)
  • 1/2 tsp gluten free baking soda (I use Bob Mill’s, found at grocery stores, or Sprout’s and Whole Foods)

*To make a nut free option, another alternative flour could be used such as coconut flour instead of the almond meal, or a gluten free flour mix such as here.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F

Place the romaine in food processor and blend until broken up.

Add date puree and black beans and pulse until mixed (it does not have to be so mixed as to look like a puree at this point).

Add hemp hearts and almond meal and pulse for about 20 seconds.

Scrape the sides of the food processor with a scrape spatula and add coconut oil and honey. Process again, until it becomes smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.

At this point your brownies will look like a pretty ugly greenish brownish mush, but don’t loose hope just yet. Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and coconut milk. Mix again until smooth.

Place in an 8×8 baking dish, lined with parchment paper or oiled with coconut oil.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Optional: once baked, while it’s still hot, spread dairy/soy free chocolate chips (can be purchased at Target or Sprout’s) or chunks (I’ve used Trader Joe’s Belgian Dark Chocolate and chopped it into chunks) and set back in the oven for a minute or so. Take out and spread the melted chocolate chips around with a spatula that has been greased with coconut oil (so the chocolate doesn’t stick to it as much.) Cool for a half hour or so, cut and serve, or refrigerate overnight and serve cold.

Notes: This brownie tastes great warm, but I actually prefer it cold, the next day, after it’s sat in the fridge overnight. Totally a personal preference though. Hope you enjoy!

Makes about 9 brownies