Better-for-you Gluten Free Brownies

imagebrownie and sunshine 🙂

imagebrownie, no sunshine. Oh yeah, the thing in the middle there? A overly cooked white chocolate chip…

I wanted to do something a bit special, celebratory for our 1 year anniversary and how better to celebrate than with something sweet and chocolatey? Yes, it is true, today my little blog turns one!

Therefore today’s recipe had to be a little special, so ‘common’ brownies were not going to cut it and since I don’t like things that are very sweet anyway, a standard recipe would not have been my thing. I have often felt that there are too many products and recipes out there that are, for example, gluten free, but now there are 18 eggs in them, or they are low fat but have twice as much sugar. So I challenged myself, why not combine some of the restrictions people face into one recipe without adding extra “bad stuff”?  A lot of folks have issues digesting gluten + diabetics should be real careful eating sugar (and I don’t like lots of it, + it’s really not good for you) + most people watch the amount of fat they consume: I was setting out with quite a lofty goal. Can’t be done, you say? Well, I just think I might have nailed it! Best of all, if you just happen to be vegan, you can make this too 🙂

And since the weather looked a good deal like fall today I added another good for you ingredient: Pumpkin, to make it moist (also packs vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Manganese and is a good source of fiber) and chick pea flour to keep it gluten free. I did have a whole big bag of chickpea flour, from who knows what recipe originally that I just rediscovered last week in making Socca.

By the way, get Besan from the Indian grocer, much cheaper than other healthfood store brands. As a matter of fact, anything you can buy at an ethnic store will be cheaper. If it is considered a specialty or an exotic item the grocery store will a) buy less of it, making it more expensive, and b) they can get away with charging premium dollar for ‘delicacies’ and ‘gourmet food’.For example, if you have a Asian grocer nearby, get your shallots there, also rice and rice noodles, dried or fresh will be a lot cheaper, so is Tofu, if you have that on your meal plan. Indian grocers usually carry various beans, peas and lentils, spices and almonds are usually less as well. And of course they have Besan, which is the chick pea flour we just talked about. But since it is not sold as a ‘gluten free’ flour… fraction of the cost!

But I digress, back to today’s topic: The gluten free, virtually fat free, low sugar, vegan anniversary BROWNIES! Yes, I am a tad exited about them, can you tell? 😉

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Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup chick pea flour/besan
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup mixed chocolate chips (dairy free, or it’s no longer vegan) or 1/2 nuts 1/2 chips
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar (turbinado)

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ÂșF
  2. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (lasagna dish) with coconut oil
  3. In a large bowl mash the bananas and mix in the pumpkin puree, then stir in the cocoa powder.
  4. Add the brown rice syrup and the water and stir until well mixed
  5. Combine the three flours, the xanthan gum, baking powder and baking soda
  6. Add the flours and 2 tablespoons of the raw sugar to the cocoa mixture and stir until well blended, then add the chocolate chips or nuts.
  7. Spread into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining sugar
  8. Bake in the middle of the pre heated oven for 45-50 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool completely before cutting, or you’ll have fudge brownies

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Grilled bananas with chocolate

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 And for an easy camping desert, bananas with chocolate:

  • Cut in to the top of the banana, making sure not to cut through.
  • Use 1 row of fine quality semi dark or milk chocolate (Lindt is excellent) and push the single pieces into the top of the banana
  • Wrap in a rectangle of aluminium foil: Place banana in the center, flip the foil up on both sides and fold down twice, then fold in ends
  • Place on a hot grill until bananas are tender and yield gently to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes (depends on the heat of the embers)
  • Carefully open packets, and eat with a spoon. Careful very hot!!

Waking up to sunlight…

image…and some lovely scenery from the kayak cockpit!

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Looking up through the rocks at where we will end up, after the uphill hike. And of course I had brought some Trail mix Granola Bars!

imageSunset Rock, overlooking North South Lake. You can’t see it from here, (I know this from the map) out of sight, off to the left there, are the Kaaterskill Falls, the lake water drains over the rocks into a fantastic multi level waterfall

© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Chocolate Coconut Rounds

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There they were, sitting timid in the middle of my fruit basket trying to pretend they were not there. Overripe bananas, like the poor step child in an old fairy tale. Since I only like to eat them when they are still a little green, these brown things in my fruit basket are definitely not my thing. But over time I have come up with various ways to use them up, using them for smoothies, pancakes or baking, after all they do provide a great source of natural sweetness without adding sugar. And yes, I have to admit before I did that, sometimes they would get thrown out. So that’s why they are scared. But fret not bananas, I have something yummy to turn you into 🙂

What do you do with your past prime bananas? Any favorites?

This recipe is grain and sugar free, the only sweetness comes from the banana, so it isn’t your traditional cookie, if you like things sweet, you might want to add 1/4 cup of sugar or some stevia. These are more like a piece of 70% cocoa chocolate, flavorful but just subtly sweet.

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And without further ado here is how to make them:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  • 2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup ground almonds, natural not blanched
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (cashew butter or other nut butter would work as well)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 dash of salt

Directions

  1. Combine shredded coconut, ground almonds, coconut flour and cocoa powder in a bowl
  2. Add the mashed bananas
  3. Melt the coconut oil together with the almond butter and stir until smooth, add to bowl
  4. Add the egg whites
  5. Mix until everything is fully incorporated
  6. Divide dough into two portions and between wax paper, work each one into a roll of about 1 1/2” to 2″ diameter.
  7. Place in the freezer for about 1 hour or until nice and solid.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  9. Remove one roll from the freezer, and slice into rounds 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick, place ona  lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. In  the meantime, repeat the same with the other roll.
  11. Let the rounds cool down on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Chocolate Balls

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Schockolade Kugeln – Chocolate Balls – Swiss Christmas Cookies

You’re not surprised that a lot of Swiss cookies involve chocolate, are you?

This is another no butter recipe. It has an intense chocolate flavor and no added fat (only fat in here is from the almonds, eggs and cocoa powder). And as an added bonus, it just so happens that it is gluten-free, tadaa!

At first I was going to translate the name of these into bullets, as in ‘death by chocolate (bullet)’ but was musing on the whole Christmas and Peace on Earth concept and thought that would seem kinda wrong, but nevertheless they are intensely chocolatey!

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Ingredients

    • 3 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 3/4 cups cocoa powder (I used a mix of extra dark and dutch processed)
    • 3 3/4 cups ground almonds (sometimes called almond flour)
    • 2-3 tbsp tapioca or potato starch

Directions

    1. In a big bowl, mix eggs sugar and cocoa until liquid and frothy looking
    2. Add the almonds and the starch and mix until, uniformly incorporated
    3. Chill dough for a few hours (if it’s cold enough where you are, put it on the balcony like we did in Switzerland, if not the fridge works well too)
    4. Form into walnut sized balls between your hands, (being careful to keep your hands cool), and place on a lined baking sheet.
    5. Let the formed balls dry overnight, or to speed up the process, you could also place the whole cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
    6. Bake in a preheated oven at 480°F for 3 to 5 minutes. The balls should only crack slightly
    7. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

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Check out the post on more Swiss Christmas Cookies to try other varieties!

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Basler Brunsli

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Basler Brunsli – ‘Basler Brownies’ – Swiss Christmas Cookies

Holidays are getting closer and no matter what your faith, we all like to celebrate and in line with that, prepare special foods and treats (Oh yeah!)  We share meals and we share time with family and friends.

So does it come as a surprise that coming from Switzerland, I would have treats involving chocolate? Probably not. But maybe it will stun you to known that these contain absolutely no butter, (and no, I did not replace it with margarine or some other fake stuff), are gluten and even grain free, and that the only fat in them comes from the ground almonds (and cocoa)? How is that for a healthy treat? (Now that said, it still IS a treat, almonds though containing healthy fats, still are fatty)

A “FĂ€hri” (small passenger ferry) setting across the Rhine opposite the MĂŒnster Cathedral in Basel

Basel, on the cross roads of Europe, has long been a center of trade from exotic spices and tea to more mundane items, and having a traditional cookie involving chocolate and other luxury goods, isn’t surprising. So here adapted for the american kitchen: Basler Brunsli

Did you know?

  •  “Dark chocolate”, also called “plain chocolate” or “black chocolate”, is produced by adding fat and sugar to cocoa. It is chocolate with zero or much less milk than milk chocolate. The U.S. has no official definition for dark chocolate but European rules specify a minimum of 35% cocoa solids.[2] Dark chocolate can be eaten as is, or used in cooking, for which thicker, more expensive baking bars with higher cocoa percentages ranging from 70% to 99% are sold. Dark is synonymous with semisweet, and extra dark with bittersweet, although the ratio of cocoa butter to solids may vary
  • “Hershey process” milk chocolate is popular in North America. It was invented by Milton S. Hershey, founder of The Hershey Company, and can be produced more cheaply than other processes since it is less sensitive to the freshness of the milk. The process is a trade secret, but experts speculate that the milk is partially lipolyzed, producing butyric acid, which stabilizes the milk from further fermentation. This compound gives the product a particular sour, “tangy” taste, to which the American public has become accustomed, to the point that other manufacturers now simply add butyric acid to their milk chocolates.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 c ground almonds/almond flour, unblanched
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch (or cornstarch)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 1/2 oz extra dark or cooking chocolate, melted (use Lindt chocolate if available)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch (optional; a clear Cherry Brandy)

Directions

  1. In  a big bowl, mix the first four ingredients.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overwork, you can only do this once)
  3. Add to the bowl with the almond mixture. Carefully fold in the beaten egg whites.
  4. In the meantime, melt the chocolate: Break into smallish pieces and either melt in a double boiler with a tablespoon water or (and this is the easier way) place in a bowl, cover with warm water and microwave at 30 second increments until the chocolate is soft and molten, then carefully pour off the water and stir smooth. Let cool slightly (so as not to cook the egg whites) then mix into the ingredients in the bowl.
  5. Refrigerate overnight or at least for several hours to firm and chill the dough
  6. Roll out on sugar (or sugar mixed with ground almonds) to about 1/2″ to 1/4″ thick.
  7. Cut out shapes using your favorite cookie cutter, place on lined baking  sheet and bake at 480°F  for 4-6 minutes (mine were perfect at 5) (if you bake them too long, they will get rock solid when cold)

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Check out the post on more Swiss Christmas Cookies to try other varieties

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Chocolate Pear Overnight Pudding

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I have been wanting something sweet, but not too sweet. Chocolate-y, but not actually chocolate, difficult right? Since I have drastically reduced my (refined) sugar intake, my taste buds realize just how much added sugar there is in everything. It’s just like salt, once you’re used to using less, you can taste its overabundance in everything. And as for sugar, many items I just plain don’t find enjoyable, no flavor just extremely SWEET. I remember how after every visit back home, I cannot eat commercially made salad dressing for a couple of months, they are sweet and it just tastes funny to me (I get vinegar & oil )

But back to the program: Make this the night before, enjoy as a healthy breakfast cold out of the fridge or heat in the microwave.

Since I started making these, I have been absolutely addicted to them, the pictures don’t do the taste justice. It’s a perfect healthy treat, desert or breakfast, YES all three ;). I’ll have some versions and variations coming up for you soon.

Yay, chocolate pudding any time!!

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Inspired by Leanne’s Banana Cherry Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe pear, diced
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 2 tbsp flax seed, roughly crushed with mortar and pestle
  • 2 tbsp chia seed
  • 2 tbsp ground almond (aka almond flour)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional, if you like things a bit sweeter)

Directions

  1. Combine chopped pear, cocoa, and almond milk in a glass dish or bowl, stir until cocoa is incorporated
  2. Using your handheld blender, blend until smooth
  3. Add flax seed, chia seed and ground almond, stir, cover and refrigerate overnight
  4. In the morning, eat chilled out of the fridge, or heat in the microwave for about 30 to 45 seconds

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved