Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Healthy and Easy Gluten Free, Sugar Free Vegan Granola

When I began working on this granola, I wanted a recipe to end all granola recipes. It needed to be gluten free, vegan, contain healthy fats and protein, and be low in sugar. Better yet, I wanted a no-sugar granola recipe.

Beyond its health benefits, I wanted a granola that baked into large, crumbly chunks, the kind you pick out of the pan before it's completely cool and end up eating two servings before it's put away.

I may or may not have done that yesterday. I completely spoiled my dinner munching on this stuff.

I also wanted to create an inexpensive granola. Commercial gluten-free granolas such as Purely Elizabeth at $6.99 and Bob's Red Mill $5.64 offer only seven 1/2-cup servings, which works out to about $1 per 200-calorie serving. In my house, one bag would barely cover a single breakfast!

My version rings in at $0.43 per half-cup serving. Even better, it packs more nutrition into that half cup serving, with more healthy fats and fiber and no refined sugar, which is the second ingredient in the other varieties.

So, how does it taste? It is exactly what I was looking for. This granola offers a perfect balance of sweet and salty with crispy edges, toasty coconut, and crunchy walnuts. I asked my kids for their honest feedback and they said it was, the best granola I have ever made.

I love how they always speak in superlatives. But, I'll take it.

Serve it with homemade almond milk and a generous heap of whatever fruit is in season for a delicious and healthy breakfast.

Salted Date Caramel Gluten-Free Granola

Yields 16 1/2-cup servings

1.5 cups pitted medjool dates
2/3 cup hot water
4 cups gluten-free oats
2.5 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Combine the dates and hot water in a blender or the cup for an immersion blender. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut, and walnuts.
  4. Add the coconut oil, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt to the date mixture and puree until smooth, adding additional water if necessary. Less liquid will help the granola become crisp during baking.
  5. Pour the date mixture over the oats and stir to coat.
  6. Spread the mixture over a sheet pan. Bake for 25 minutes without stirring.
  7. Using a metal spatula, flip the granola over in sections, as if flipping pancakes, trying to keep the individual clusters intact. Bake for another 15 minutes. Flip again and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on the granola at the end of the baking time. You want to dry it out thoroughly but not burn anything.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Allow the granola to cool completely before snacking or storing.
Nutrition facts per 1/2-cup serving
Calories 266, Fat 17 grams, Carbohydrate 27 grams, Fiber 5 grams, Protein 5 grams

Friday, May 5, 2017

Chipotle Orange Glazed Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Grilling season begins early in Southern California, so when I scored Douglas Rodriguez's Latin Flavors on the Grill at my kids' school rummage sale last month, I begin trying recipes immediately.

I adapted this recipe from Rodriguez's Sticky Orange and Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potatoes, omitting the butter to make it plant-based and healthier. I also added a touch of maple syrup and swapped the orange juice concentrate for freshly squeezed orange juice because fresh citrus is literally dropping from the trees all around our neighborhood. I love Santa Barbara!

The chipotle orange glaze is made on the stove top and is pretty much hands off. I let it simmer while the grill heats up. Make sure to read the ingredients label on the chipotles in adobo to ensure they are gluten-free; some brands contain wheat. If you don't have canned chipotle in adobo sauce, you can also use ground chipotle.

Blanching and shocking the sweet potatoes quickly is essential. The moist heat makes them tender but not falling apart when you finish them on the grill, which gives a nice blast of smoky flavor and caramelizes the sugars in the sweet potato. I prefer to do the first step ahead of time so that come dinner time, I merely slide the par-cooked sweet potatoes onto the grill and they're ready in five minutes.

Chipotle Orange Glazed Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

2 pounds sweet potatoes, unpeeled
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 to 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Slice the sweet potatoes into ½-inch thick slices and place them in a large pot of salted water. Bring the water to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes. Transfer the sweet potatoes to an ice-water bath. Drain and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine the orange juice, chipotle, maple syrup, and sea salt. Simmer over low heat until reduced to 2 to 3 tablespoons.

Preheat a grill to medium. Brush the sweet potatoes with the coconut oil and grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until grill marks appear.

Transfer the sweet potatoes to a serving platter and brush with the chipotle glaze.

Why print the recipe when you could just save this image to your tablet or phone? Save a tree and save the recipe!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Everyday Vegan Sandwich with Avocado, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper, and Hummus

Gluten-free vegan sandwich with roasted red pepper, hummus, and avocado

This is one of those recipes that compels even non-vegans to say, "If all vegan food tasted this way, I would never eat meat again." The tangy quick-pickled red onions draped over shredded kale and fresh basil are perfectly balanced by creamy avocado, sweet grape tomatoes, smoky roasted red peppers, earthy mushrooms, and a thick layer of roasted garlic hummus. Every bite is a symphony of flavors.

And, this sandwich is easy! From craving to plate, it takes only about five minutes to prepare. I'm not normally very time-sensitive when it comes to cooking (I would spend hours in the kitchen for a worthy recipe), but when I was working on my recent book The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Families, I had to craft recipes that could be prepared in 30 minutes or less. It was such a fun project to work on and gave me tons of new ideas for quick, easy gluten-free lunches.

Gluten-free vegan sandwich with roasted red pepper, hummus, and avocado

The recipe came about, as many do, as a refrigerator yard sale -- but it worked beyond my wildest expectations. If you do not have one or more of the ingredients, don't sweat it. If you prefer to swap kale for lettuce or arugula, go for it. A vegan mayonnaise would work just as well as the hummus, but straight tahini has an overwhelming bitterness that did not work here. I used roasted, jarred piquillo peppers because they taste as good or better than homemade roasted red peppers. The one thing I cannot do without here is the pickled red onions. They are tangy, crunchy, briny, perfection.

Gluten-free vegan sandwich with roasted red pepper, hummus, and avocado

The most important tip for making this sandwich is to have all of the ingredients ready before you begin assembling the sandwich. The red onions should soak for a couple minutes. Also, the hummus soaks into the bread quickly and it loses its toastiness if you, say, try to photograph it. Just put the phone down and eat! You can post a pic of your empty plate and tag me on Instagram @modernfamilytable

As for a vegan, gluten-free sandwich bread, I went with a brand I found at Sprouts. Whole Foods likely carries it as well, but I cannot find it online. I looked at One Green Planet for recommendations and was sorely disappointed -- most of their suggestions were those gluten-free bricks that dominated the gluten-free section of the grocery store around 2008.

You could also make your own gluten-free, vegan sandwich bread, which I intend to do this afternoon using aquafaba and this recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out! At $5 to $6 a loaf in stores, it is pricey, especially if you're not accustomed to paying the gluten-free markup.

Gluten-free vegan sandwich with roasted red pepper, hummus, and avocado

Everyday Vegan Sandwich

Serves 1

2-3 thin slices red onion
Sea salt
Splash red wine vinegar
2 slices vegan, gluten-free bread, toasted
2  tablespoons hummus
2 Cremini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 roasted piquillo peppers, thinly sliced
Handful grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded kale
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
  1. Begin by quick-pickling the onions. Place them in a ramekin and season with sea salt. Pour in a few teaspoons of red wine vinegar and massage gently with your fingers. Set aside. 
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon of the hummus on one slice of bread and top with the mushroom slices, piquillo peppers, grape tomatoes, basil, avocado, and shredded kale. 
  3. Remove the onions, shaking off any excess vinegar. Set them over the kale. 
  4. Slather the remaining hummus on the second slice of bread and set it on the sandwich. Enjoy immediately.

Gluten-free vegan sandwich with roasted red pepper, hummus, and avocado

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Maple Bourbon Chocolate Ganache Tart with Salted Hazelnut Crust, Vegan, Paleo, and Gluten-Free

This may be one of the best desserts I have ever made. It is complex and perfectly balanced with a salted hazelnut crust and a creamy maple, bourbon chocolate ganache filling.

The crust has a similar texture to graham cracker crusts and the filling is richly dense while remaining easily sliceable. The tart is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and paleo.

I recommend it for an adults-only crowd, or reduce or omit the alcohol for younger palates. My kids enjoyed a few bites before announcing that there was something strange about it. I admitted to possibly adding a splash of bourbon. Possibly.

“It was on the shelf,” I said. “It was calling me.” 

“You should have resisted the temptation,” Brad said, pushing his pie away. “See how well it worked out for Adam and Eve?”

Good point. 

Rich helped himself to the rest of Brad’s pie.

In my defense, bourbon has as much alcohol as vanilla extract does. Actually, vanilla extract is bourbon, primarily. So, if you put vanilla in your desserts, why not bourbon? I rest my case. In any case, more pie for me.  

Make sure to use a good quality unsweetened chocolate. I prefer Guittard Unsweetened Chocolate Gourmet Baking Bars because they are Certified Fair Trade and has a deep chocolate flavor with floral and spice notes. 

Maple Bourbon Chocolate Ganache Tart with Salted Hazelnut Crust

Serves 12

For the crust:

2 cups (about 200 grams) ground hazelnuts
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons palm shortening or vegan butter, melted

For the filling:

¾ cup coconut cream, divided
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
Pinch sea salt
6 ounces 100% cacao chocolate, such as Guittard, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons bourbon, optional  

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the hazelnuts, sugar, and sea salt. Drizzle in the melted butter or shortening and vanilla extract. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  3. Press the mixture into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. 
  4. Place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.

To make the filling:

  1. Bring ½ cup of the coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla, sea salt, and bourbon to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Remove from the heat. 
  2. Stir in the chocolate with a spatula and then allow to rest for 5 minutes. Stir again until the chocolate is melted.
  3. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup of coconut cream to cool the mixture.
  4. Pour into the prepared tart shell and refrigerate until set, 2 to 3 hours.

Nutrition Information:
Hazelnut Bourbon Maple Chocolate Torte, 12 servings
Per slice: Calories 273, Fat 23, Protein 5, Carbohydrates 17 (Sugars 10), Fiber 4

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Date Caramel and Apples from The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Families

I am so excited to announce that my new book The Gluten Free Cookbook for Families is available for pre-order on Amazon and is the number one new release in gluten-free diet today! My amazing publisher has teamed up with the Beyond Celiac organization to bring one lucky winner a gift basket loaded with gluten-free treats and pantry staples.

Simply pre-order the book, and enter here for your chance to win. 

The winner will receive :
    Arrowhead Mill Coconut Flour
    Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Pasta
    Mia's Kitchen Gluten Free Garlic and Onion Pasta Sauce
    Imagine Organic Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth
    Annie's Creamy Deluxe Gluten Free Mac and Cheese
    Modern Oats Nuts and Seeds Oatmeal
    Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal
    Enjoy Life Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Jason's Gluten Free Bodywash

Pre-order giveaway for Gluten Free Cookbook for Families

As many of you know, I have written more than a dozen books, but this one is especially close to my heart. Going gluten-free has made such a profound impact on my health and my kids' health and well-being. The book is brimming with stories and recipes for our family's favorite meals. Some recipes I'm especially excited about include Loaded Vegetarian Pizza (with a grain-free, paleo pizza crust!), Pan-Seared Chicken Breast with Sauteed Zucchini, and the most authentic recipe for Shrimp Pad Thai you'll ever find. 

I'm also pretty smitten by this simple salted date caramel with sliced apples. It's naturally free from gluten and refined sugar and is a healthy snack my kids will devour when they come home from school. 

Date Caramel and Apple Slices
excerpted from The Gluten Free Cookbook for Families, by Pamela Ellgen

Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Allergen-Free, Vegan, One Dish
Serves 4
Prep time: 5 minutes, plus 15 minutes inactive time / Cook time: 0 minutes 

The first time I tasted date caramel, I was undone. It requires no cooking and no added sugars, and yet it’s sweet, syrupy, and exquisite drizzled over pancakes or used as a dip for apples. Store it in a sealable container for an energizing snack.  

½ cup pitted medjool dates
¼ to 1/3 cup hot water
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into wedges 

1.     Cover the dates with hot water in a heat proof container, using as much as needed to cover. Allow to soak for 15 minutes.
2.     Add the coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Use an immersion blender to puree until very smooth.
3.     Serve the date caramel with the apple slices.  

Serving Tip: If you’re sending this in a school lunchbox, sprinkle the apple slices with lemon juice to keep them from browning.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage and Hazelnuts

In the Christmas movie The Family Man, Jack, played by Nicholas Cage, gets a glimpse of the life he rejected. On Christmas Eve, he is transported from his investment banking, Ferrari-driving, single malt Scotch drinking life in New York City to his college girlfriend, the family he never had, and a broken minivan in suburban New Jersey.

New Jersey, Kate.

Every time I watch the movie, I'm know I'm supposed to think about how rich the simple life is with dirty diapers and barking dogs and friends who wear bowling shirts.

I don't.

I imagine life in a high rise, attending the opera, wearing black dresses that aren't made of jersey knit, and drinking wine that isn't sold by the glass. I am a bad person. 

During his glimpse at what his life could have looked like, Jack takes his wife, played by Tea Leoni, to dinner in the city. As he brings a bite of food to his lips, he closes his eyes and says, "God, I miss that taste!"

That is how I feel about this pasta, especially these roasted butternut squash ravioli with sage, toasted hazelnuts, and nutty brown butter. After five years of being gluten free I have missed the taste of fresh pasta. Last month, I developed a recipe for homemade gluten-free, paleo pasta that fulfills all of my pasta lusts. It is tender, chewy, and perfectly delicate. 

That said, it is temperamental. (Read: I pay the swear jar at least a dollar before I even get started.) But, I try to remind myself that making fresh pasta, even with wheat flour, requires patience and sensitivity. You can't rush the process. It is a labor of love

But once I take that first bite, I realize it is worth every ounce of effort. Hence, I've made the recipe at least once a week in the month since developing it. Tonight, I'm using this pasta dough to make celeraic and chevre fennel agnolotti with brown butter parsley pesto and shiitakes from Local Milk Blog.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage and Hazelnuts 

Serves 4
1 butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeds and strings removed
1 teaspoon roasted garlic
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper  

Pasta Dough 
3/4 cup tapioca starch (100 grams), plus more for dusting 
3/4 cup almond flour (90 grams)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon guar gum
3 large eggs, divided

3 tablespoons ghee  
1 sprig fresh sage, minced
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

1. To make the filling, preheat the oven to 400F. Place the butternut squash in a roasting dish. Roast uncovered for 1 hour, or until the flesh is tender. 

2. When it is cool enough to handle, scoop the butternut squash flesh into a small mixing bowl. You should have about 2 cups.

3. Stir in the roasted garlic and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper. Set the filling aside. You can complete this step a day ahead of time if you wish. 

Pasta Dough
1. To make the pasta dough, Mix the tapioca starch, almond flour, sea salt, and guar gum in a small mixing bowl. 

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 2 eggs. Use a spatula to stir it around, slowly incorporating the flours until the dough comes together into a ball. Place the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper and dust lightly with tapioca starch.

3.  Divide the dough into four to six pieces and cover all but one with a towel or plastic so that they do not dry out. Knead one of the dough pieces with your hand and flatten until it is about 1/4-inch thick.

4. Set the pasta maker to the first setting, #1, which is the widest. Run the dough through the machine twice. If it tears, fold it back onto itself and run it through again. If it sticks, dust lightly with tapioca starch.

5. Set the pasta maker to the next setting, #2, and run the pasta dough through it twice. Reduce the setting again to #3 and run the dough through twice. You can stop at this setting for a slightly thicker noodle, or drop the setting to #4 and run it through twice more.

6. Make two pieces of dough into sheets and lay them side by side on the parchment paper.

7. Scoop the filling onto the dough by the tablespoon, spacing apart by about 1 1/2 inches between each bit of filling.

8. Whisk the remaining egg. Brush the egg lightly along the sheet of pasta with the filling. Carefully place the top sheet of pasta over the filling and press gently in between each lump of filling, then press along all other sides trying to prevent any air bubbles from remaining in each ravioli.

9. Use a sharp knife, pasta cutter, or ravioli stamp to cut each ravioli. Add the scraps to the remaining dough.

10. Repeat with the remaining filling and dough.

 To Cook and Serve
 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the ravioli for 7 to 9 minutes. 

2. During the last 2 minutes of the ravioli cooking time, heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sage and hazelnuts and cook until fragrant.

3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked ravioli to the skillet and brown gently in the ghee. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Gluten-Free, Paleo Fresh Pasta

Since going gluten-free five years ago, I've missed the taste of fresh pasta, its perfect texture readily absorbing the flavors of heirloom tomato sauce, roasted garlic alfredo, or carbonara. After several unsuccessful attempts to make gluten-free pasta at home, I finally admitted defeat and sold my pasta machine. When I went paleo about three years ago, pasta of any sort became a distant memory. 

Recently I tried Cappello's gluten-free, grain-free pasta, and instantly fell in love with the tender, chewy texture. I did not fall in love with the price. At $11 a pop, it was a splurge - certainly not something I could put on our weekly menu. That was a bummer, because with Rich being pescatarian and me paleo, it's tough to find healthy meals that satisfy both of our dietary preferences without resorting to salmon every night.

I am thrilled to say, that is about to change. Pasta is back on the menu!

I created a gluten-free paleo pasta recipe that is easy to work with and tastes amazing. The ingredients are similar to Cappello's, but theirs is made "primarily with almond flour and cage-free eggs" according to their website whereas mine has a more traditional ratio of flours to eggs, with nearly equal parts tapioca starch and almond flour.

It make delicious lasagna noodles, fettucine, and ravioli. I've already made this recipe three times, including a Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with Ghee, Sage, and Toasted Oregon Hazelnuts (recipe to come).

You can make this recipe with a rolling pin and parchment paper. That is what I did to test the recipe before investing in another pasta maker (this is my third). The simple machine makes the task easier and yields a thinner noodle that holds up better to cooking. I bought mine at World Market for less than $40.

Tips for Making Homemade Gluten-Free Pasta:

  • Humidity affects the dough. If you're making it on a rainy day or you live in an environment with high humidity, you may need to add just a touch more tapioca flour. 
  • Unlike pasta dough made with gluten, this dough does not tolerate stretching. It should not be draped over a dowel to dry and should be carefully hand-fed into the pasta maker. Actually, this reality makes working with the dough using a rolling pin easier. 
  • Be patient. The first time you make the dough, you may find it temperamental. Make sure you have enough time and energy to focus. (Definitely don't drag out your SLR camera on the first try!)  

Gluten-Free, Paleo Fresh Pasta Recipe

Yields 2 servings

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tapioca starch (50 grams), plus more for dusting 
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour (45 grams)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon guar gum
1 large egg

1. Mix the tapioca starch, almond flour, sea salt, and guar gum in a small mixing bowl.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg. Use a spatula to stir it around, slowly incorporating the flours until the dough comes together into a ball. Place the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper and dust lightly with tapioca starch.

 3. Divide the dough into four to six pieces and cover all but one with a towel or plastic so that they do not dry out. Flatten one of the dough pieces with your hand or a rolling pin until it is about 1/4-inch thick.

4. Set the pasta maker to the first setting, #1, which is the widest. Run the dough through the machine twice. If it tears, fold it back onto itself and run it through again. If it sticks, dust lightly with tapioca starch.

5. Set the pasta maker to the next setting, #2, and run the pasta dough through it twice. Reduce the setting again to #3 and run the dough through twice. You can stop at this setting for a slightly thicker noodle, or drop the setting to #4 and run it through twice more. That is the setting I used in the photographs here.

6. Dust the pasta sheet with tapioca starch. This will help prevent the noodles from sticking to one another once they are cut. 

7. Attach the fettucine attachment to the pasta maker and re-attach the hand crank to the attachment. Carefully feed the flattened dough through to cut the sheet into individual noodles.

8. Lay the pasta onto the parchment sheet and allow to rest while you repeat steps 4 through 7 with the remaining dough. Be careful not to incorporate too much tapioca starch into the dough as you process it.

9. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Carefully slide the noodles from the parchment paper into the boiling water and quickly stir with a pasta spoon. Set a timer for 90 seconds. Stir once or twice if the noodles are sticking to one another or to the bottom of the pot.

10. Drain in a colander and transfer the noodles to the sauce or serving dish.