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Gluten Free Protein Power Cookies

January 3rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Wow.  Finally, a day off with no obligations!

I had hoped to bring you a plethora of delicious vegan Christmas treats and recipes over the month of December, but running the restaurant got a wee bit crazy and the days turned into nights and the breakfasts turned into lunch and dinner, and before I knew it…it was New Years and the season had come and gone.  Next year my plan is to bring it to you in November so you have the month of December to enjoy the recipes and make them over several times! But enough excuses…on to 2012!

Working in a restaurant is ironic.  I’m surrounded by food and options galore, and yet I never seem to get to eat.  Sometimes I find myself going 10-12 hours without a meal or a snack, simply because I’m running around all day.  We are always too busy feeding the masses.  Part of my New Year’s resolution was to be more organized and to have handy snacks on hand for a quick energy boost back stage.  What did I come up with?  Cookies.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m giving you permission to use cookies as a meal replacement.  This one’s for you Megan! (maybe try having a piece of fruit on the side).

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yields:  2 dozen cookies

Whole Almonds, and then ground into Almond Meal

Chia ground in a coffee grinder

3/4 cup of almond meal (this can either be bought or you can grind up almonds in a high-speed blender)
1/2 cup of gluten-free oats
1/2 cup of organic coconut flour
1 cup of sucanat (unrefined cane juice) coconut palm sugar or beet sugar
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3/4 cup of almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds (ground flax seed works as well)
1/4 cup of agave nectar or maple syrup
1/4 cup of light olive oil or coconut oil (melted)
1/3 cup of organic almond butter
1/2 cup of dried cherries
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of dairy-free dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper (I like parchment as it’s a quick clean up at the end).  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk and chia (or flax).  Let sit for a few minutes while you prepare the dry ingredients.

Dry ingredients combined with chocolate chips and dried cherries

In a large mixing bowl, mix together everything from the almond meal, to the baking powder.  Add the chocolate chips, dried cherries and chopped nuts and set aside.

Your milk and chia mixture (or flax if you are using flax) should have thickened considerably.   Add the agave, olive oil, almond butter and whisk together until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine thoroughly.

Drop large spoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets.  These cookies do not spread, nor do they rise considerably, so you want to basically flatten them down until they are the same thickness from the center to the edge.  You can use the back of a spoon or the back of a fork.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.  This will give you a nice soft chewy cookie.  If you prefer your cookies to be a bit crisper, leave them for another 2 or three minutes, being careful not to burn them!

Let cool on cooling racks and enjoy!  2 cookies is about 250 calories and 5 grams of protein.

Recipe adapted from Protein Monster Cookies






Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake

September 18th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Gluten-Free.  The phrase sends shivers up and down my spine.  Veganizing something is pretty easy, but gluten-free baking is a challenge that has been an epic fail in my kitchen more times than I can count.

Gluten is a sticky storage protein that is found in many grains such as wheat, rye, spelt and barley (to name a few).  This protein is what gives baked goods their structure and texture, but for people with a gluten allergy, it can cause serious digestive problems and even in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.  Scary right?

Gluten free baking is also scary.  Textures can end up being grainy, projects crumble their way to the garbage can, not to mention that taste is usually compromised.  I’m not sure what possessed me to take one of my mum’s fantastic recipes and make it gluten-free (and vegan – that part’s a given).  I must have had a momentary lapse of reason, but this time instead of epic fail – we have a winner!  To my all my friends with gluten allergies (I’m surprised how many there are), this one’s for you!

Serves:  16
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Bake Time:  40-45 minutes

1/2 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance Butter Sticks)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups organic cane sugar
3 teaspoons egg replacer with 4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons xanathan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
vegan chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9 x 13 cake pan.  I actually used mini loaf pans for mine, but if you do this you will need less baking time.

Cream the margarine with the vegetable oil and sugar.  Add the egg replacer and vanilla.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda.

Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet.  The batter will be thicker than a regular cake batter.  Don’t worry.  This is normal.  Add the grated zucchini.

Scoop the batter into the pan and spread it evenly (like I said, it will be thick, so you will need to spread it around).   If you have a real sweet tooth, you can sprinkle the top of the cake with chocolate chips.  I chose not to do this, but my mum usually bakes it this way.

Bake for about 40 minutes and test to make sure it’s done by inserting a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, the cake is baked, otherwise I might need a few more minutes!  If you are using muffin tins or mini loaf pans, you will only need to bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Also, if you choose to use muffin tins, I recommend cupcake liners.  This is definitely cake and NOT muffin!

This cake is rich and moist, and although the batter had a strong garbanzo bean flavour (the main flour used in Bob’s Red Mill is garbanzo bean) the finished product was delicious – no beans detected!


Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

June 6th, 2011 § 6 comments § permalink

‘Tis the wedding season.  My friend Eleanor is getting married in June, and I am THRILLED that she has asked me to make her wedding cake!  The response I have had from the buzz of vegan wedding cake has been phenomenal, and I’m pleased to say that I am now open for wedding (or other special occasion) cake business!  If you are interested in having a custom cake built, please email me at melissa@swapmeat.ca for a quote.

Cake.  Everybody loves cake.  Just saying the word cake makes me salivate instantly.  I’m drooling on my keyboard as I write this, thinking of lemony moistness and cream cheese sweetness.  Sigh……

Now, I don’t normally eat cake – in fact I NEVER eat cake, although I bake them, decorate them and admire them from afar.  I removed refined sugar and flours from my diet several years ago now because once I start I can’t stop…. but for the celebration of wedding, I’m going to make this cake a vegan one so that I can test it and deliver a product that will be part of a very special celebration.

I decided to test my recipe first in cupcake form and I think nailed it from the beginning – bride approved.  This is a vanilla cake recipe to which I have added lemon extract and lemon zest.  I’ve topped it with a vegan cream cheese frosting, also flavoured with lemon.  Sweet, tart, and cream-cheesy rich, this cake is sure to please at a spring wedding.

This recipe comes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and I have modified it slightly to add lemon flavouring.  For anyone that doesn’t know it, this is a great little recipe book.  I’ve tried several of the recipes and they ALWAYS turn out perfectly.  Nicely done ladies!!

Yield:  10 cupcakes
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Bake Time:  25 minutes

Preheat oven to 350F

Line a muffin tray with 10 cupcake papers

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup light mazola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
zest of one lemon

In a a mixing bowl, combine the milk and the apple cider vinegar and let stand for a few minutes until the milk has curdled.

In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour to soda) until well combined.

Add the oil, sugar and extracts to the wet mixture.  Add the lemon zest and turn on the mixer to the slowest speed.  Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet until just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix one more time.

Divide the batter into the cupcake liners and bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until you insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and it comes out clean.

Let cool before frosting.


For the Lemon, Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 cup earth balance shortening
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
3 cups vegan confection sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
approximately 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Make sure your shortening and cream cheese is at room temperature before you begin.  In a mixer with the whisk attachment, cream the shortening and the cream cheese.  I have used shortening in this recipe because it is more stable than margarine.  If your cupcakes will be out in the sun or if you are serving in warm weather, shortening is less likely to “melt” than butter or margarine.  If this is not a concern, of course you can substitute shortening for margarine here.  Add the lemon extract.

With the mixer on LOW, start to add your icing sugar, one spoon at a time (otherwise your kitchen will be covered in powdered sugar).  If the mix gets too stiff for the whisk, add a little bit of lemon juice until it loosens up a bit.  You want your icing to still be quite stiff, but it shouldn’t be so stiff that you won’t be able to pipe it or spread it easily.  Add just enough lemon juice until the frosting still forms a nice peak when you pull the whisk from the icing.

Fill a piping bag with a nib of your choice and pipe the tops of the cupcakes.  Garnish with a lemon wedge if you choose.

*please note:  this recipe contains both soy and wheat.


Gluten Free Flaky Pie Crust

May 1st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I tried several flour combinations before consulting the experts and purchasing Gluten Free Pantry’s pie crust flour mix. It even says “Perfect Pie Crust” right on the packaging! How can you go wrong?!


1 pkg Gluten Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp cold Earth Balance
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp cold Earth Balance Shortening
egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
2 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas.

In a glass mixing cup, combine the wet ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with your hands until well combined.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.  Divide the dough in half.  This recipe makes enough for two 9″ pie shells.   You can save the remaining pie dough for another time if you wish by placing it in the freezer.

Roll with a rolling-pin between 2 pieces of parchment paper to about 1/4″ thick (or slightly thinner).  Place in a pie dish, crimp and trim the edges, and enjoy with your favourite pie recipes!

THE BEST Gluten Free Banana Bread

May 1st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

My original plan was to use a vegan and gluten-free brioche with a French Toast Recipe. After several attempts, I kind of threw in the towel, discovering that brioche is incredibly labour intensive and not easily replicated with gluten-free flours. I won’t call myself defeated as of yet; I’ve simply put the brioche challenge on the back burner for a little while.
This being said, I began searching for a different bread to use in the recipe. Remembering a version of Banana Bread French Toast on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, I figured that I’d give it a whirl.  Luckily, I found a great little recipe for Brown Rice Flour Banana Bread in La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. It bakes up beautifully!  By doubling the recipe, adding xanthan gum to avoid it crumbling to pieces, increasing the amount of baking powder I think it’s just right.  Brioche shmioche. Banana bread is where it’s at…

For the Banana Bread:

2 over-ripe bananas
1/2 cup grapeseed oil or coconut oil
2/3 cups maple syrup
3 tsp energy egg-replacer
4 tbsp water
4 tbsp non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups brown rice flour (you could also use an all purpose gluten free flour here)
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.  This loaf will take about 50 minutes to bake, so you want to make sure you allow yourself enough time in order to get French toast on the table.  I made mine the day before and stored int he fridge until it was time to make the toast.

Place the first 7 ingredients in the food processor (up to and including the vanilla) and blend until smooth.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.  Chop the pecans and combine well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir until JUST combined.  You do not want to over stir this batter as it will create tunnels in the bread when baking and you’ll end up with a heavy loaf.  If you have a few uncombined flour bits…that’s ok.  The secret is minimal stirring.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is golden brown and if you insert a knife into the center it comes out clean.

Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan, and another 15 minutes before slicing!

Chewy Almond Butter Sweet and Salty Cookies

March 26th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I have always been told to avoid peanuts like the plague as the are susceptible to a mold called Aspergillus Flavis.  This mold contains Aflatoxin, an extremely potent human carcinogen.  Peanut butter cookies anyone?  Yeah, maybe not.

Almonds on the other hand have an abundance of health benefits.  A tablespoon of almond butter counts as one serving from the meat and beans group of the Canadian Food Guide Pyramid and is high in calcium and healthy fats (the exact opposite of peanut butter which contain the bad fats).

Although peanut butter cookies are one of my all time favourite things, I’ve created this recipe for almond butter cookies as a better alternative to fill the peanut butter gap.

Yield:  2 dozen cookies
Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Baking Time:  10-12 minutes


2 cups spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup smooth organic almond butter (or crunchy if you prefer)
1 cup agave nectar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp pure organic vanilla extract
Course sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond butter, agave nectar, olive oil, and the vanilla.  Add flour mixture to the almond butter mixture and stir until the dough is just barely mixed.

Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes until the flour absorbs all the oil.  Avoid eating all the dough at this stage – it’s hard, I know.  Give one more quick stir, and place the dough in the fridge for about half an hour to set.  If you don’t chill the dough you will not be able to press them onto the cookies sheets (they will just fall apart).

With clean hands, roll into about 1 1/2″ balls and place onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Press down on each one gently with the back of a fork and sprinkle each cookie with a little coarse sea salt (not too much, just a few grains).

Bake for 10-12 minutes, but don’t over bake or they will not be chewy!  I watch mine very carefully in the oven after the 5 minute mark and I pull them from the oven when the bottoms are just slightly golden.  I like my cookies to be soft and chewy.  Let cool five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

The perfect, replacement to peanut butter cookies!


Vegan Banana Bread

March 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Banana Bread.  Comfort food.  I had three leftover bananas this morning and decided that I deserved a baked delight as I near the end of my 40 day yoga challenge.  I took my mum’s original recipe and substituted spelt flour for wheat flour.  I veganized it by removing the egg and milk and adding applesauce.  MMmmmmmm….. 3 small very ripe bananas

1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup sucanat sugar (or agave syrup)
2 tablespoons molasses
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas really well. Add the sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses, and whisk briskly to incorporate.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool

This loaf is also delicious as an afternoon snack toasted with earth balance!

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