Halloween Muffins

I finally stopped drooling over the recipes in my copy of Grain-Free Gourmet and tried one. The results were…unexpected!

One day last week I woke up with a craving for blueberry baked goods. Out of the blue (har har), I just had a hankering. So I settled in with Grain-Free Gourmet and flipped through to the recipe for blueberry muffins.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen), and I had a big resealable bag of blueberries in my freezer, from this summer when my mom, grandmother, and I visited Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls. World’s largest blueberry here, folks!

World's largest blueberry

Two cups seemed like an awful lot, but I figured I’d go where the recipe led me. It also called for simmering the blueberries on the stove top, which again seemed peculiar, and a tad too time intensive for my norm. I grew a bit impatient once I had all my other ingredients mixed and the oven preheated, and I was just waiting on the blueberries to cool. I decided to mix the wet ingredients and the dry, and then stir in the blueberries to that afterward.

The results were surprising.

Booberry batter

Midnight black batter! If you’re looking for something that fits the spooky Halloween bill, these muffins are it. No food coloring required to make these booberry babies!

Dark black muffins

I can’t get over how dark the batter turned once I added the blueberries. These would be a festive addition to a Halloween party spread. For an extra special treat, you could even top these with a very simple meringue frosting using honey, egg whites, sea salt, and a dash of vanilla. I bet this SCD cream cheese-style frosting would also be great. Throw in some red and yellow food coloring to make a striking shade of orange that will really bring out the Halloween effect.

Black muffins for Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Cornless Cornbread

I don’t know what came over me last night, but I had a hankering for cornbread like nothing else. I used to get the ready-made pans of it at the grocery store, back in the day, back in my life before the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I figured there had to be some grain-free recipe kicking around, just waiting for my eager paws to land on.

This recipe for almond flour “cornbread” turned out to be just the thing. A mere five ingredients are all that’s needed to bake up a delectable, golden side.

almond flour cornbread

I like to use a buttered glass pie plate rather than an 8-by-8 square pan (fewer burnt bottoms, more tasty noms).

The recipe is surprisingly similar to the one for Deanna’s Midas Gold Pancakes featured in Breaking the Vicious Cycle. This is my go-to pancake recipe and it never disappoints, especially when you throw in some blueberries, ah, mah, gah. A few recipe tweaks, a preheated oven, and blammo—you’ve got yourself “cornbread.”

Recipe Review: SCD Pumpkin Muffins

I’m an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of gal. This morning was no different, and I woke before the sun started shimmying its way up into the sky. I started cleaning the kitchen a bit before trying my hand at a batch of pumpkin muffins. Because it’s October and that means it’s officially pumpkin season. Time to bust out all the pumpkiny recipe favorites and savor the flavor of…Octovor? Err…

Sometimes the best recipes come from the unlikeliest of places. I found this fantastic pumpkin muffin recipe over on a forum for Celiac disease. Now that I’m a year and a half into my SCD journey, I’ve finally built up a standard enough pantry that I had everything in the recipe on hand. (However, word to the wise: do NOT purchase the tiny bottles of organic Market Pantry spices at Target. They are cute as all get-out, but not even a quarter teaspoon will fit into those itty baby bottle mouths.)

I left out the optional walnuts and raisins, and mixed all my wet ingredients by hand since a) Colin was sleeping and I didn’t want the electric mixer to wake him, and b) less dishes to wash is always a good thing in my book. I also grated my own nutmeg, since that was all I had. I’m pretty sure I ended up with less than the 1/2 teaspoon called for, but there’s only so much hand grating a girl can take. (Am I right, ladies? That came out wrong.)

Most recipes for gluten-free baked goods call for an oven temperature of 350°F. This recipe calls for a 325°F oven, which really prevented the muffins from scorching and drying out. The recipe’s suggested 25–30 minute cook time was also surprisingly accurate—I checked my batch of muffins after 20 minutes, and then let them go for another 4–5 minutes, removing them once an inserted toothpick came out clean.

And the muffins turned out spectacularly. Airy and aromatic, these muffins are on another dimension when served warm out of the oven with a sliver of butter melting between sliced halves. The traditional pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg) are such warm and familiar fall tones, inviting visions of heaping leaf piles and warty green-gold gourds. One bite and I’m fully immersed in the season.

gluten-free pumpkin muffins

Recipe Review: Elana’s Pantry’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay, now I know what you’re going to say. “Chocolate isn’t allowed on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet! What can I do with a chocolate chip cookie recipe?” The answer? Pretty much anything you want.

This vegan cookie recipe from Elana’s Pantry (which also happens to be on the back of 5-lb bags of Honeyville Almond Flour) is so easily adaptable that you can omit the chocolate chips and throw in practically any ingredients you have on hand. At least, that’s what I did. I subbed walnut pieces and chopped up Medjool dates for the chocolate chips (as well as a 1/2 cup of honey in place of the non-SCD-legal agave nectar). The batch turned out better than I’d even dreamed—crisp yet moist, salty and sweet, and more cookies than you can shake a stick at. The recipe easily makes two dozen, and in my case it was closer to three dozen since I made them a tad small (about 2 inches in diameter).

Cookies with walnuts, dates, honey, almond flour

What I like most about these cookies is how closely they resemble a traditional Toll House cookie. All the almond flour cookie recipes I’ve tried so far have resulted in cookies that, however tasty, are a far cry from the cookies Mom used to make. These ones come surprisingly close. I’m looking forward to adapting this recipe using other SCD-legal ingredients: raisins? coconut flakes? macadamia nuts? Whatever my little chocolate-free heart so desires.

Recipe Review: Elana’s Very Vanilla Cupcakes

very vanilla cupcake

I made these yesterday for a gluten-free friend’s 30th birthday party, and oh. My. Word. They were gobbled up quickly and I could just make out the compliments through others’ stuffed mouths. Many commented on how moist they turned out, and I was surprised at the cupcakes’ fluffiness. These lacked the usual density most almond flour recipes have, and the vanilla taste was very noticeable (in such a good way). They reminded me of more traditional cupcakes and they proved an excellent choice for a birthday party.

gluten-free cupcakes

I didn’t have time to frost them before going to the party, so I brought Sleeping Bear Apiary’s Lemon Honey Creme to spread on top of the cupcakes once I arrived. There was a dish of pecans around that someone decided to mine for cupcake decorations/toppings, so each cupcake ended up with a halved pecan on it. That slight addition made them look exceptionally professional. I didn’t try any of the be-pecaned cupcakes, but can guess that they were tasty. They were gone so fast I didn’t get a picture of them, though I had one cupcake and shared bites of it with two other people. It awakened a cupcake sweet tooth in me that had lain dormant for over a year. I may need to make these again today just for Colin and me to devour.

Gluten-free cupcakes

The book stated the recipe made 10 cupcakes, but I got a full dozen out of it easily. I considered making a double batch, but knew there would be other gluten-free baked goods at the party, so I stuck with the original recipe. I did substitute honey for the agave nectar to make it SCD legal. (I’m the only one in the bunch who follows the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, so agave nectar would’ve been fine for everyone else. But if I’m making treats, I want to be able to eat them.)

This was my first try at a recipe from Elana Amsterdam’s The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, and I’ll be going back for more. I received this cookbook as a Christmas gift last year, and I don’t know what’s kept me from trying any of the recipes in it.

Though I did have one hiccup with the cupcake recipe. After whisking the egg yolks, oil, and other wet ingredients with a handheld mixer, the directions immediately call for whisking the egg whites with a handheld mixer. My electric mixer only has one whisk attachment, and I foolishly plunged it straight into the egg whites after using it on the yolks and oil. After minutes of beating, my egg whites still weren’t whipping up to a frothy, foamy meringue consistency, and I cursed and chucked the ruined whites down the drain. I washed the whisk attachment and the bowl I’d been using, dried both, and cracked and separated two new eggs to get untarnished whites to start again with my whisking. This time, the egg whites whipped up perfectly. So the next time I make this recipe, since I have only one whisk attachment, I will whip up the egg whites before whisking the yolks and the other wet ingredients. This could very well save a headache or two, especially for other novices like me who forget that egg whites need to be untouched by oil and yolk in order to whip up properly.

Also, if this is your first time using grapeseed oil, be prepared for the oil’s emerald green hue. I used it last weekend for mayonnaise and it made the recipe turn out the same color as a St. Patrick’s Day float, but it was nevertheless delicious. Though it is a little strange to work with, the green does not affect the color or taste of these cupcakes, thankfully.