Gluten Free

The PB&J of life and Pantry Granola Bars

This is not a post about the most epic peanut butter and jelly you've ever laid eyes on. If you want that, check out this recipe. It's about being in between two things, like (Justin's) peanut butter and jelly between (Udi's Gluten Free) slices of bread.

I am in between two races, recovering from Tussey, getting ready for TNF 50 in just three weeks. The amount of time between the two races is a strange amount and therefore makes me feel a little weird, a little off and a little bit like a slacker. I definitely wanted to recover throughly from Tussey. Even though I was feeling good after the race, I definitely didn't want to push it and get hurt. But in the back of my mind, I also knew that I wanted to keep working on my speed (for Houston in January) and maintain my fitness for TNF. The week after Tussey, I ran just over 50 miles for the week. The next week 85. Last week, I did a righteously hard week (but still lower mileage) and finished it off with doing Lithia Loop as a hard training run. I've been working out with my trainer Josh and am feeling strong and healthy and my running is going great. I can't complain, but I do feel a bit stuck in the middle. For most of the year, my peak training has included several double workouts a week and I've gone over 100 miles a lot this year. I like running over 100 miles per week. And I feel like I haven't done that forever. Woe is me right? No, that's not what this is about. That type of intense training helps you feel and stay sharp. I trained really hard and smart for Tussey and had a phenomenal race. So I feel stuck between trying to pursue that level of training with my physical limits (aka staying healthy and not overtraining). I definitely don't want the wheels to come off and crash and burn before I even get to the starting line at the beginning of December. Thankfully, I have been resolute about keeping my mileage moderate (80-90 miles), I have an amazing coach who challenges and pushes me and found other things to entertain and distract me (like my new obsession with True Blood).

I guess, in the end, stuck is the wrong word because I do not feel bad, I am just in between two things that precipitate and influence my behavior. I like to run and run and run and run some more. So sticking to a plan is definitely a good idea. There will be plenty of time for crazy high mileage, epic runs and training.



Speaking of things that stick together. I just threw together some amazing granola bars. I call them "pantry" granola bars because I went and scrounged around in our pantry, came up with a small bag of seedy trail mix and a large bag of standard trail mix and went to town making some seriously good granola bars. These can really accommodate any number of different combinations of trail mixes, though I highly recommend one nuttier version and one seedier version. And of course, chocolate never hurts either.


Ingredients:
2 cups gluten free oats (or regular, if you are one of those people)
2 cups nutty (mine had date pieces and banana pieces along with nuts) trail mix
1/4 cup peanuts (or any nuts)
1/4 cup peanut flour (optional)
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp cacao nibs
1/2 cup seedy trail mix
1/2 cup dried fruit (mix or single variety, I used sour cherries)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
4 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
2 tsp vanilla extract
salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Toss together oats, nutty trail mix, peanut and peanut flour. Place on a baking sheet or in large baking dish. Toast in oven for 10 minutes or until starting to get a little golden (watch it, don't burn it!)

While the oat mix is toasting, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the honey, dark brown sugar and salt. Heat until the mixture is fully incorporated and the brown sugar is melted (2-3 minutes), stir often. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

When the oat mixture is done toasting, remove from pan/sheet into a large mixing bowl. Mix together oat mixture, butter/sugar mixture and seedy/fruit mixture. Stir until completely incorporated.

Turn oven down to 300 degrees. In a large baking dish (can be the same one, just be careful not to burn yourself), place a piece of parchment paper that hangs over the ends (helps with getting it out of the pan later!). Pour the mixture into the baking pan and tamp down in a wooden spoon until even. Bake for 25-27 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting. The bars must set, so let them cool completely!! Enjoy!

Rise to the Occasion: Gluten Free Carrot Oat Muffins



Those who know me, know that I associate myself with closely with turtles. I like to say it is because I am slow, but most people don't buy that. Whatever my reasoning may be, I do love turtles. However, carrots, mainly carrot muffins make me strongly consider changing teams and becoming more of a rabbit (or some might suggest a donkey), just to justify copious quantities of my newly revised carrot oat muffins.

I love carrot muffins. Possibly more than pumpkin muffins. Perhaps I should just generalize and say I love orange foods: carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, persimmons. Mmmm, I just got hungry again. I have a muffin obsession as I mention repeatedly, but carrots muffins have previously taken me above and beyond obsession to addiction. When I was living in Seattle, there was a period of time where every day I would be unable to resist the siren's call of the gluten free vegan carrot walnut muffins at Flying Apron. I was powerless against it, they were delicious. 

A few years ago, to combat the problem, I decided to make my own homemade version. They were good but decidedly gluten free and vegan tasting. That is, no one would be fooled. I moved away from Seattle and sort of forgot about the carrot muffin addiction for a while. Until recently that is. In my quest to build a better gluten free muffin, I stumbled upon my own old recipe and decided to breathe new life into it. I have been working on this one for a while and yesterday, I triumphed, BIG TIME.

Yesterday, I carefully measured and mixed, folded and baked. Waited patiently for 25 minutes. And when I opened the oven to remove them, I was shocked. The muffins, they had muffin tops! I tell you in gluten free baking, it is not a common sight! I was amazed. I was delighted. These muffins had truly risen to the occasion.


I waited for them to cool. Hoping in the process they didn't fall (they didn't). Hoping that the flavor would match their appearance. I took a tentative bite. Wow. Hands down, best muffin I've made yet. I am on a roll. Last week best scones, this week best muffins. 

My other muffin recipes have tended toward the moist almost cupcake like texture, which is fine. But these carrot oat wonders were more muffin-y-er, a bit more dry (without being dry), laced with strands of carrots, flecks of oats and hunks of walnuts. The only thing I could see adding would be golden raisins. They were so tasty. And the best part is, they kept well overnight. They didn't collapse or get sticky or more moist. In fact, they were such a triumph that, over breakfast this morning, the baker inquired "you sure there's not any gluten in here?"


Gluten Free Carrot Oat Muffins (revised)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 1 cup carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 egg (yolks and whites separated)
  • 1/4 cup Buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • optional, 1/4 cup golden raisins

Directions:

1. In large bowl, pour almond milk over oats; stir to mix.

2. Cream together brown sugars, molasses, butter, coconut oil, vanilla extract and egg yolks in a mixer on medium.

3. Sift together flour, spices, baking powder, salt and baking soda together. Stir into oat mixture and add carrots and walnuts.

4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients gently until combine. Do not overmix.
5. In a mixer in a very clean bowl, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the white sugar into a meringue. Start whipping the eggs first then gently add the sugar a few tbsps at a time. Beat until soft peaks form. (Note, sometimes meringues just don't behave, if you don't get good peaks or it doesn't work, don't fret, just add the egg white/sugar combination into the muffin mix and it'll be fine!)

6. Very gently fold the meringue into the muffins so as to keep it nice and fluffy.

7.Spoon into muffin cups in a muffin pan, filling almost to the top. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 24-26 minutes.

5. Let stand 2 minutes before removing from pan. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with butter and jam. Store in a tupperware container (do not refrigerate).

In my dreams, there is pizza

Is it deja vu? Have you seen this post before? It is possible if you have been reading and keeping up with my Fast Foodie Cooks blog. I have decided to combine my blogs back into one. I don't need two. I thought I wanted to make a go at a "real" professional-like food blog but by dividing the food from the running you take away part of what makes me who I am. It is the play between food, running and life that interests me. Maybe I will never "make it" as a food blogger or as any kind of blogger, but frankly, I just have to be true to who I am. I am a Fast Foodie. So to reintroduce you to the foodie part of me (for those of you who weren't checking out the (gluten free) goodness going on over there, here is my most recent and exceptionally delicious post. And while I finish up the transition, you will probably stumble upon broken links, missing pictures, etc. I am working on all of that, stick with me!



There are a few things I don't eat very often: pizza and burgers. Partially because, for the most part, you can't find healthy (fast foodie) type versions of them. Partially because when I do eat them it is a treat or indulgence. But mostly because they usually aren't done well gluten free. In fact, they are usually appallingly bad. They don't crisp up right, they have a weird metallic taste (xanthum gum taste), or they are too sweet. Or they are just plain not good. I have found myself wondering if anyone even tasted the recipe or product before they put it on the market. I mean most of us do know what pizza is suppose to taste like. Thus, for the most part, I go without. I mean I have eaten 2 burgers in the span of time since I stopped being vegan (its just not the same without the bun) and maybe had pizza a half dozen times (and half of those times have been pain inducing but oh so worth it real gluten-y goodness).




Yes, I know I talk a lot about things I don't eat on this blog. And then I turn around and make them into something I can actually have. I thought about that a lot recently since we've been talking about the new Tartine Bread book that's coming out in September. Not a single thing I can eat in it, but I sure will be making sure that I pour over the recipes like nobodies business for some amazing ideas.

But I too have some amazing ideas. Like gluten free pizza. Ok, I didn't say it was an original idea but there are a few baked goods that very few in the gluten free world have mastered. Bread and pizza crust, really anything made with a basic dough in the gluten world, is hard to replicate. And these recipes are often coveted and additionally, it is hard to wade through the sea of available recipes to find the ones that are actually good.

But this one was good.



I will continue to work on it, but the initial success has me so excited I couldn't help but share it. So here it is. I look forward to playing with it more and will update it with new successes and ideas. All I know, is that there is going to be much more pizza eating around here.

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

First things first, you need to make your flour mixture. I have been playing with this mixture as my base for most of my baked goods lately and have found it delightfully versatile. You won't use it all in the dough recipe

GF flour mix:
  • 1.25 cups tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
  • 1.25 cups sweet rice flour
  • 1.5 cups brown rice flour
  • .5 cups sorghum flour
  • 2 tsp xanthum gum

Gluten Free Pizza Dough:
  • 1.75 cups gluten free flour mixture
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp xathum gum
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 3 ounces active yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

In a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients except the yeast until incorporated. Add yeast into warm warm to dissolve then add it and the remaining wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until dough is holding together and forms a ball.

Remove dough from the mixture and let rise, covered in a warm place for an hour. You can skip this step in a pinch but it will crisp up even better if you do.

Once the dough is done rising, it is time to shape. First preheat your oven to 450 degrees. On a large piece of parchment paper, place the dough in the center. Dust the dough with tapioca flour so your fingers don't stick. Add more tapioca flour as you gently press the dough out into the desired size. You can either use a pizza stone (thus make a circle) or baking sheet (thus a rectangle). Spread the dough carefully until the crust is 1/4 inch thick. You won't be able to get the dough off the parchment paper, so place dough and parchment on your baking vessel. Let rise for another 20 minutes.

Once the second rise is complete, lightly drizzle olive oil over the crust. Bake at 450 degrees until the dough is golden, crispy and has air bubbles (yes air bubbles on a gluten free crust!).
Remove from oven.

Being very careful, using the parchment, flip the crust over so that the golden bottom is now your surface to put toppings. Now top with your favorite ingredients, lightly brush the edges with olive oil and bake again for 6-10 minutes.

Toppings:

Pizza #1: Mom's Marinara and fresh basil leaves

Pizza #2: Fresh figs, thinly sliced, Humbodlt fog goat cheese, fresh thyme, saffron sea salt, light drizzle of honey.

Routine as white rice and butter

Our first CSA box from Eatwell Farms

I haven't felt routine in a while. We moved, we had guests, more guests, races to prepare for, nesting to be done, shelving to be built and hung. While bucking routine is nice to change things up, I do enjoy routine. I think one of the reasons I thrive as a runner is because I get to plan, organize and execute a training schedule. There are curves in that I can depend on. I like that. I like spontaneity too, yeah but that is a bit different than just being caught up in a rapid fire of change. Thankfully one of the things that brings me a great deal of comfort and dependability (beyond running) is cooking. And I have been cooking.

Gluten Free Sugarplum Vegan Carrot Cupcakes- a reward for a 48.5 mile run

I may have not been journaling, tweeting, blogging, photographing or following along on the news, but I have been cooking. Routine things. Moderately interesting things. We've been getting a CSA the last few weeks, so there has been lots of greenery. I have been peaking in training, so there has been lots of steak. We've made sandwiches, stir-frys and boring white rice with butter (which suddenly has become one of my favorite things). I have been making coconut granola and crusty breads.

Gluten Free Crusty Boule

With family in town and family leaving town, we have eaten out a great deal. Green Chile Kitchen, Nopalito, Outerlands, Starbelly, Foreign Cinema, Fish (Sausalito) and noshed on fresh fruits and treats from the farmers market.

Ferry Building Farmer Market

It's been a whirlwind, I tell ya. And I am not complaining. No, not at all. This post is more about remembering those dangling little participles before they are swept away than any firm resolute point. I have to share the pictures, the moments before they are pushed aside in the mind by another deep, rich moment.

Family brunch at Outerlands in the Sunset

I had been really good about journaling, but over the last two months have been crap. Really crap. And I don't really like that. That is a routine I need to get back into. Blogging too, because I have much to do and share. There is work to be done, along this funny road I am traveling on. For the next 10 days, I have a one track mind though: Western States 100 mile race. That's got my brain going and my body resting. Over the next week and change there will be a lot of steak/meat. It is my favorite pre-race fuel. And possibly lots of white rice and butter.

On Sunday, it was round one of the steak fest. The baker and I cooked for his mother who was visit from Ohio. We made peri peri rubbed rib eyes, seared in the cast iron. Cooked to a medium rare perfection. We wilted greens from the Eatwell Farms CSA box, cooking them down and down, simply. Olive oil, salt, a dash of water. The risotto was something special. Risotto has a special place in my heart because it is the first recipe I learned that required specific technique and care. I learned porcini mushroom risotto and have made much since that day. Ours was simple and fresh as the late spring day we enjoyed, herbed with basil and parsley, sugar snap peas and a nice sheep's milk pecorino. The Baker stirred and stirred and stirred it to perfection. The meal was simple but beautiful. While complicated, ornate, involved food can be fun, to me there is nothing better than simple good food that lets amazing ingredients stand up and speak for themselves.

Peri-peri rubbed rib-eye, sugar snap pea and herbed risotto, wilted greens


Big bowl of nutrition



I eat healthy, nutritious, real food. Even my indulgences (like a certain muffin obsession) are healthy and can be consumed on a regular basis without question. I think back to my diet when I was a high school and college basketball player and shudder, it was pretty opposite to what I eat now, though I have always been a fan of fruits and vegetables (thanks mom!). Despite being a super healthy eater, someone who eats a salad every day for lunch and a green drink every day with breakfast, sometimes I still crave a dish that take nutrition to the next level. Something akin to nutrition squared. It may sound weird, but sometimes all I want is a plate of brussel sprouts or a steamed head of broccoli.

Before I headed off to France for Advanced Week, I was seriously craving some nutrition squared, especially since I had no idea what kind of food would be in store for me upon arrival in Bedoin (thank goodness there was lots of salad and they made me separate gluten free dishes! Found most of the fare to have pretty light and healthy options).

To tame the raging craving beast, I came up with this fruit, tofu and green salad. I have to say, sometimes when you think something is going to just taste "healthy" you can be blindsided with outrageously great flavor. The fruits were not overly sweet, but perfectly ripe. There was a great playfulness in the levels of crispness and crunch of the apples and the smoothness of the mango and papaya. This salad could make an appearance at breakfast, lunch or dinner and no one would blink an eye. Not only was it nutritious, it was easy and of course delicious. It kinda made me want to break into what my dad calls my "I'm so good" dance. Oh yeah. I'm so good. Now, I need to come up with another muffin recipe to bring the nutrition ratio back to just plain nutritious, not nutritious squared.



Chia Seed Fruit Salad


Ingredients:
  • ½ mango, diced
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • ½ cup papaya, diced
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1 serving baked tofu, diced
  • 5 medium strawberries, sliced
  • 4 cups mixed baby greens
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon flax oil
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Real Sea Salt

Directions:

In a large bowl, place mixed baby greens. Toss together fruit, tofu and avocado and put over greens. Drizzle with apple cider vinegar and then flax oil. Sprinkle chia seeds and nutritional yeast. Salt to taste Enjoy!

The most wonderful time of the year


I posted recently on my running blog about realizing I need to eat more meat. That post was about a month ago and the truth of the matter is, I probably haven't been that much better about eating meat more. Maybe 1x per week more. That still means I am eating meat/fish only 3 days a week. Not so good. Even in France I was limited to little meat because often times the main offerings had gluten in them. I probably managed to eat meat 4 times while I was there, which by all accounts is comparatively pretty fantastic.

The problem is not that I don't like meat. I do. Just like the problem is not that I don't like cookies (gluten free of course). If you put them in front of me, I will eat it and probably a fair amount. Thus, meat or even cookies for that matter (speaking of which I have managed to eat 4 small teff peanut butter cookies today already, someone stop me!) don't tend to stay around very long. On top of that, my grocery of choice Rainbow grocery, does not sell meat. Thus, I usually don't want to make a second trip to another store to get meat. I shop at Rainbow because I am primarily a fruit and vegetable eater and Rainbow provides the most local organic produce you can find outside of a farmer's market. I love fruits and vegetables more than cookies and meat combine. But I also know I need to eat more meat. Thank goodness for St. Patty's Day.




As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, I was making Gluten Free Irish Soda bread (and cookies magically got made as well) to compliment a slow-cooked corned beef brisket. I love corned beef brisket. My favorite time of year is around St. Patty's day because corned beef brisket is readily available, it is one of my more favorite cuts of meat. Plus, it is an excellent excuse to make my mom's horseradish sauce (1 part fresh prepared horseradish, 1 part dijon mustard, 2 parts sour cream).

The soda bread was a hit with my diners, sucked down as both appetizer and dessert (with a little left for breakfast). The brisket was outstanding though. Starting at 4pm, I turned the oven on to 300 degrees to preheat. Meanwhile, I put my large Dutch oven on the burner and put the brisket in with it's brine and spices. I added 2 fresh bay leaves. Then I covered it with enough water to have about 2 inches of water above it. I brought it to a boil, skimmed the gunk off the top and put the lid on, then straight into the oven. I let it cook for 3 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, I did other things, got stuff done, wasted two hours, then went back into the kitchen to put together the mustard-roasted potatoes. I used the mix of ingredients from this recipe, but problem was, I was already using the oven and it was at 300 degrees not 400. Thus, I decided I would slow roast the potatoes on the very bottom rack and when I took out the corned beef, kick up the temperature to 425 to get some crisp on them.


The potatoes roasted for an hour and when the corned beef was tender, I pulled the Dutch oven out, put it back on the burner, removed the meat and covered it tightly with foil. Then I cranked up the heat on the stove and threw into the cooking liquid a half head of green cabbage cut into wedges. Cooked that for another 15-20 minutes while the potatoes, now at 425 and on the middle rack of the oven, crisped. Wham bam, done delicious.

It was all really good. To serve I put the cabbage on a serving plate with the meat sliced on top. I had people spoon cooking liquid from the meat over the top of their food for additional kick. While I tend to think that the horseradish sauce is what brings me to the table, everything was incredibly flavored, dang near perfectly cooked and awesome.

(P.S. sorry the pictures aren't as awesome as I would like, no natural lighting by dinnertime, even with daylight savings time!)

Race Week Nutrition


Tree Hugger in Provence. Photo by the GripMaster.

I missed a week of baking, cooking, etc. I apologize. I was in France attending Salomon Advanced Week (which you can read about here). There was running, eating pretty decent French food and some good fun. But I am back now and doing a power taper for my race this Saturday, the Lake Sonoma 50 miler. Part of tapering is cutting back miles, resting a lot and letting the body get nice and rested for the long miles ahead. Additionally, I get massage, stretch a lot and if I am feeling sore, take an ice bath or two. The biggest part of taper is nutrition. Making sure you get the right combination of nutrients and the right amount of fuel is key.

I am not a carbo-loader. I don't eat pasta the night before a race. I would prefer steak and potatoes, or steak and rice and a seaweed salad. Tried and true, it is what works for me. When I eat pasta (gluten free of course), I just feel empty. Carbs alone just don't fuel me enough. I have to support them with something.


A well balanced plate.

Even though I am running a lot less than usual on this final taper week, my nutrition is at its best. Race week nutrition is tricky. You have to fuel up to support your upcoming effort, eat the right combination of things to make sure you are recovered from training, all while accounting for the lower calorie needs of a minimal training week. But like I said, during race week, I seem to be at my best. Maybe it is the lack of running that allows me to be more thoughtful about my meals (if that is possible!), or maybe it is just that I know from experience that it really makes a difference.

This week on my plate has been awesome. After spending a week in France, I was really looking forward to cooking at home. The food there was fresh and for the most part light, but I ate three meals a day at the resort where we were located. Not exactly exciting by day 6! On Sunday, the baker and I whipped up a huge pot of Rancho Gordo beans and roasted some chicken with a spicy chili sauce for tacos. I made a nice fresh slaw with pumpkin seeds, radishes, cabbage and lime. The tacos were a perfect way to start of the weeks eating (and nutrition). Well balanced, not too heavy and made for some great leftovers for Monday night's dinner. Lunch stayed the same, a huge salad each day which I really enjoyed.



Last night my sister and I had a movie night and I decided to cook up a recipe for Chana Masala,  I had read in A Homemade Life. I followed the recipe with one exception. I added cauliflower. A whole head of it after the tomatoes were added. I wanted, no needed more vegetables on my plate. And man was it delicious! I cooked everything until the cauliflower was tender and then served over coconut rice (rice cooked with 1 part light coconut milk, 1 part water: so if you use 1 cup of rice, use 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup water). On the side was something that made me want to cry because I couldn't have seconds. Garlic Lemon Spinach. There had been some great local fresh spinach at the shop and it definitely trumped the frozen spinach I had thought to use. I cooked up 2-3 cloves of garlic in 1 part butter, 1 part olive oil until they started to brown, then I tossed in the spinach and a tbsp of water, put the top on and gave it a shake. Once it was cooked, I added sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. I am telling you, I would have eaten just a huge plate of that. So good. Well, I take it back the Chana Masala was amazing. Spicy, complex, flavorful. I of course followed up this meal with ice cream. Some people religiously cut out things during taper week, I deliberately add them back in because I am trying to make sure I have no calorie deficit during the week. I like to train low, race high. That is not to say I go crazy during taper week, I am sensible, not overly restrictive.



To wit, I made cookies today! Teff Peanut Butter cookies. I didn't use oil, I used melted butter. And they were pretty dang good, though surprisingly less peanut buttery than I imagined. I made them quite small so that I could indulge guilt free. It's a fine line. I want to arrive at the start line with my body fueled correctly but physically feeling fit and light. For me, I know that too many grains cause me to retain water and retention of water does not lead to feeling fit and ready to fight. These little buggers were a good compromise of nutrition and indulgence.


I have been harboring a corned beef in my freezer while I was gone. A first cut, organic beautiful corned beef that I couldn't wait to cook. As I was out of town for St. Patty's day, I decided to cook it up this week to make sure I was getting in my protein. It's Wednesday and I haven't eaten meat yet this week. So tonight, I am going to whip it up along with some cabbage, mustard roasted potatoes and serve it all with some gluten free irish soda bread.

I don't believe I have ever had Irish Soda bread, let alone Gluten Free Irish Soda bread. So I consulted a few sources and went at it. In the end I combined two of my favorite gluten free bloggers recipes and created my own. The loaf came out nicely. Somewhat like a scone, fragrant of caraway seeds and dotted with soaked currants. Next time, I think I will soak the currants in something further infusing flavor. This adaptation is more of a half followed one recipe, half followed the other. I combined one's suggested dry ingredients with an adaptation of the other's wet. Seems to have worked out well. As I said, I have never had soda bread, so creating an idea from scratch was out of the question. But I improvised a great deal by doing this combination, so it would be interesting to compare. I am really looking forward to having a small slice of this bread tonight with a good balance of vegetables and meat (and mustard and horseradish!!!).

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffins


Calling my name, GF Banana Ginger Muffins

There are many times in life since going gluten free that I will pass by a bakery window and gaze in upon stacks of beautiful fresh baked muffins and wish that I could have one too. As I have mentioned, I don't crave sweet that much but I do love an occasional muffin. Last year, when I was able to "take a break" from my no-gluten diet (doctor's recommendation for testing) I stumbled upon my all time favorite muffins at Macrina Bakery in Seattle. Vegan Banana Ginger Muffins. I went home after that, totally obsessed and created a version of my own and posted the recipe. But those were made with whole wheat and spelt and soon I had to reliquish their hold over my tastebuds and go gluten free again (thanks for the painful vacation doc!).



I will wait for these to cool, I will wait for these to cool.

After that, I baked muffins occasionally, picked up muffins at Flying Apron when I was in Seattle, and generally went without. And then, the other day I remembered these muffins. I think it was because I was planning a big group run around Discovery Park in Seattle for my visit home this weekend. Last year a bunch of speedsters got together and ran some loops and then went to Macrina. Oh those muffins. I instantly knew that it was up to me to create a gluten free version that would be as crave worthy as the Macrina ones.

I did it. Yes, me and my little creative brain did it.



I took my own original recipe and then worked through some possible flour combinations/ratios. With muffins, especially gluten free ones, texture is huge. And picking the right flour combination makes a huge difference. I settled on brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour in a 2:1 ratio. Flying by the seat of my pants as it were, I also kicked up the ginger content two fold as I recalled that my previous batch a year ago was not as gingery as I liked.

I baked. I waited. I let them cool so completely that by the time I went to eat them I was bonking from lack of food. I think there was a bit of trepidation in there too. I was afraid to try them. The looked like a winner, but would the taste be triumphant? Would the texture leave me once again annoyed that gluten free will never translate the same? Would they dissolve into a wet, fallen mess overnight (like a lot of GF baked goods do)? Would they be hockey pucks?


In a word: No. I was awe struck by these muffins. Look at that texture! If I didn't tell you it was gluten free, you would not know. The taste, oh my! Smooth banana flavor with a perfect and very present ginger flavor. They played nicely together, letting each other have a share of the glory and spotlight. Neither dominated, they comingled, they made music together and my taste buds were singing! My favorite part was that the banana and ginger were present but the muffin was still predominately savory, not overly sweet- just enough. Again a very fine balance, I think.

I was so excited I couldn't wait to share them with the Baker.

He made me wait though. I fed him way too much bibimbap and homemade coconut milk ice cream for dinner. I waited patiently for my second opinion. I finally got it post early morning run with our regular crew in the Headlands. I open the container (which I left on the counter), prepared myself for some caved in or other gluten free horror to unfold but they were still perfect, together, moist.  The Baker took one out and  took a bite, I prepared myself for a polite, "they're good" and to go back to the drawing board.


"Wow" He said. "These are good. These are really really good. Where did you get the recipe?" Happy dance in my head, something along the lines of a end zone dance, complete with strutting and waving of arms!

"From my head" I answered. "Completely original recipe". I liked being able to say that. I feel it is important to my perspective to keep perspective on the whether things are "good for a gluten free item" (because we all know there are plenty of really bad options out there) or "universally good", meaning gluten free/egg free or not these are damn good. I am glad my second opinion heralded them as the second. I made my muffins in small muffin tins so we shared a second muffin, though I am sure we easily could have each had two and not be making a bad dietary choice (since in addition to all the other awesome things about this recipe, there is only 1/4 cup of butter and that is the only fat). These are not "you can eat those because you run 100 miles" muffins, these are part of a healthy and delicious lifestyle muffins. I don't think it is a bad thing when you can have your decadent cake and have it be nutritious too. It is just an added benefit to these muffins that you don't even have to think about it.

They are good. Damn good. I will be making them again and again and again. I have a feeling that down the line, someone will be looking at one of these babies through the window of my own bakery.

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffin

Ingredients:
5 small very ripe bananas (if not super ripe, add 1/4 cup almond milk)
¼ cup butter , room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 ⅓ cup brown rice flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
⅔ cup garbanzo bean flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 ½ tsp. ginger zest, divided
4 tsp. crystallized ginger, minced, divided
1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch fresh nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 and line with parchment cups/grease 2 muffin pans (12 muffins). In a food processor, mix together the bananas and butter. Mix in the two types of brown sugar and blend together. Add in vanilla, 2 tsp of minced crystallized ginger, 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger (zest).

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the remaining ginger until incorporated. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of muffin mix into the muffin pans, making 9-12 muffins. Sprinkle the muffins with dark brown sugar and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted and the tops are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes

Bread and stuff to put on bread

Bread attempts

I am not really the type of person to wish to change circumstances that cannot be or wish things away that simply cannot be wished away. It is futile and a great waste of energy. I change or work for change in things I have control over and celebrate the parts of life that simply are what they are good or bad. No resistance, no stress.

There is one thing though I would change. Ok, actually it's two things. I wish I could eat gluten and I wish I could eat eggs. There is no oh poor me involved in this. I eat these things, I don't feel good. It is a fact of life, one which would be nice to be able to change. People with food intolerance, allergies and diseases like Chrons/Celiac are not doing happy dances when they get their diagnoses I assure you. As much as you can become happy and ok with it, it is not something you'd wish on anyone.

There are a few brilliant individuals such as Karina and Shauna and bakeries such as BabyCakes (NYC/LA) and Flying Apron (Seattle) who are making great strides in creating gluten-free friendly recipes of the things people commonly have to cut out of their diets when they have gluten intolerance and Celiac. It is awesome what they are doing. Goodness knows, I appreciate it when I need a baked goods fix. I have also started to develop gluten free, egg-free recipes of my own that I would some day love to share in a cookbook or bakery.


I think my biggest problem is that I am not really a baked good person in general. You would think that would make being gluten intolerant easier and it does, but the problem is when I do crave a baked good there are some that just cannot be mimicked in a gluten free style. Cookies, cupcakes, even most morning pastries but not bread. The thing I often crave the most is a big hunk of crusty bread straight out of the oven. In my adult life, I have never been much of a consumer of bread on a daily basis, or even consistently of grains. I just prefer veggies and fruit to grains. But there are some days when I can think of nothing more than a hunk of bread with butter melting over it.

Last week was one of those weeks. I wanted bread. I wanted a sandwich. I wanted crusty, flaky warm bread straight out of the oven. And I didn't want to suffer for it. And so, I decided to try my hand at baking on. I consulted many sources but each had something I could not use or work with. One has eggs, another uses a breadmaker and provides no alternate instructions. Each had something I would tweak or change. And so I decided to do that.


I developed a gluten free, egg free crusty bread in my brand new 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset, consulted with the Baker about a few techniques and on Friday baked off my first batch. Fresh out of the oven (after cooling), it had a great outside crunch, the inside was what I would expect of a gluten free loaf- slightly dense, but yes! it had some lift and stretchy bubbles. However, it also had a slightly metallic taste which I had just suggested be worked out of another gluten free recipe that the Baker had me try. The metallic taste comes from the egg replacer which would easily be remedied if I had the luxury of being able to eat eggs. Eggs are a good "cheat" in gluten free baking. The loaf was not bad, in fact, it was probably a revelation in terms of gluten free bread baking. But it was not what I wanted. I will continue to develop the recipe and see if I can create something crave worthy. It is a start and I am intrigued.

Condiment Party



Part of the hope in baking the bread on Friday was that I would have a nice loaf of bread that I could put my hot dogs on for our Super Bowl Sunday party. We decided to throw a Super not Superbowl Party, which eventually became just a Super Superbowl Party. The requirements for coming were to bring a beverage and a homemade condiment. The Baker made buns and we cooked up some great tasting dogs. The day before the big game, we spent a few hours in the kitchen making Maple Baked Beans, Chipotle Ketchup, Roasted Peppers, Caramelized Onions and Spicy Mustard.


Best hog dog buns anyone had ever tasted.



Hot dogs braised in white wine, onions and cloves.



Maple Glazed Beans. Cooked for 6 hours. YUM!


The party was awesome and the party-goers absolutely surprised and delighted me in the level in which they got into making condiments. They showed some great creativity. We had a few types of ketchup, honey mustard, sprouted mung bean relish, spicy thai relish, wasabi mayo, guacamole, tomatillo salsa, sauerkraut, cream cheese. You name it, we had it. It was really fascinating to watch the combination and methods that people chose in getting a maximum number of condiments on their dogs or plates. People had a great time and I was really blessed to have such a great group of people bless my home with their presence and my kitchen with their great dishes!

Taming the Green Monster

I know I am a strange person. That is not news to anyone who knows me.

Yesterday I was reminded again that the things I eat and the foods I crave are also not normal. I was doing an interview for DailyMile and we were discussing food and I mentioned craving salads and vegetables which produced a quizzical look. Later on that day, when I was talking to Scott my massage therapist at Psoas, he said "I never crave fruits and vegetables, just fatty food or sugar, etc". Never? Really?!

I thought about it for a while since honest to goodness I don't have sugar cravings, in fact I wouldn't really say I have cravings at all. Usually on my long runs I start thinking about the food I will refuel with and get particularly fixated on something but it's not a true craving and even if it were, well, I usually have earned it. On my 34.5 mile run this Sunday I got fixated on the idea of having roast chicken and salad for dinner and ultimately that is what we had. Rotisserie chicken from Limon and a big leaf salad. Really hit the spot.

After all the talk of food cravings or not, last night all I could think about was a big green salad. Not your restaurant style green salad which is usually just beautiful greens plus a delicious dressing. I am talking greens, green vegetables and even a herb-y dressing. Yes, I was craving it. I needed to tame that green monster.



And wow was it good. I actually ate WAY slower than I usually do so I could savor each and every bite. The only things that weren't green in this salad were the baked tofu and the sauerkraut. I felt like a superhero after eating this salad. I felt invigorated and satisfied. It is definitely one that I will be making again and again. Salad may not be rocket science, but that doesn't mean it can't be profound on occasion.

Greener than Green Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup broccoli, lightly steamed (to make it less gas producing)

2 stalks of kale, cut into ribbons

4-6 cups of greens including arugula, spinach

2 tbsp fresh cilantro

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 cup sauerkraut

1 package baked tofu

1/2 avocado

1 cup rice vinegar

4 cloves garlic minced

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger

2-3 tbsp mixed fresh herbs

1/2 cup+ peanut oil

Directions:

Mix vinegar, garlic, herbs, sesame oil, ginger in a blender. With the motor running, add in peanut oil until dressing emulsifies.

In a large bowl, put the cut kale into the bowl and add 2 tbsps dressing. With clean bare hands, massage the kale for 30 seconds until the leaves slightly soften. Add in greens, spinach, arugula, cilantro, and green onions. Toss to coat with dressing adding more to taste. Top with steamed broccoli, avocado, tofu and sauerkraut. Enjoy. This salad is definitely a meal, split it into two and have it as a side.

Speaking of weird cravings, last week I was seriously jonesing for chickpeas. I mean really, I couldn't get it out of my head. I decided for Wednesday dinner that I would call on my inner Greek and make some recipes from Vefa's Kitchen which I had gotten over the weekend. I made Vegetable and Garbanzo Bean Casserole as well as Chicken Souvlaki. Both were delicious and I am super keen to try more recipes from the cookbook. It is a good one, a classic and a compendium of Greek Food (it's been called the bible of traditional Greek Food). I won't share the recipes, but I will share a few photos of the delicious final product!