in the kitchen: apple-carrot cake

I have an abundance of carrots and apples in my fridge. I’m leaving town on Thursday morning and will have house guests until then, which means either I need extra stuff to feed them with, or I have to balance eating out with not letting my fridge go to waste. Also, I’ve been trying to taste things lately that I’ve always thought I hated, because I was an incredibly picky eater as a kid (except for, ironically, just about anything made from wheat). One of the things I have always found disgusting is carrot cake.

No more, no more. This morning I used this recipe from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, with a couple modifications. First, I had brown sugar, so I used that. Also, you don’t need a VitaMix. I only have a small food processor, so I threw everything into my Osterizer instead, and damn if that blender can’t do anything it puts its mind to. It made a great pulp in just a few minutes. I subbed all-purpose flour for sorghum flour. Aside from that, it’s all like it was on the original website, and it was amazing! Even my non-dietarily restricted neighbor thought it was amazing.

No photo today, sorry. But go make it! It was the perfect thing to help me transition from sweet stuff to semi-sweet, because the sweet is all natural, and you don’t feel guilty when you’re having a third piece when you know a large amount of the bread is carrots and apples.

in the kitchen: gluten free cupcakes

So tonight a friend and I decided to get together and make dessert. I have my obvious many food issues, and she doesn’t like chocolate, so my idea for making homemade peanut butter cups will have to wait. Tonight we went to the store and bought some Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix and some Pillsbury no-fuss frosting (free of just about everything I’m not supposed to have, which is a big deal–we considered making our own frosting out of confectioner’s sugar, but this seemed easier). The “recipe” was pretty easy, because it was a mix, so the only thing I had to alter was margarine instead of butter (it kills me that I have to use so many processed fake foods now, which is why baking is something I rarely do, but this was a special occasion).

21 minutes in the oven and they were nice and spongy, and after they cooled for ten minutes we iced, and I found some valentine sprinkles in the cabinet to make them look pretty. I ate three, because I am a disgusting heifer when it comes to dessert, especially after I’ve mostly given up sugar, and now I’m paying for it with a I-never-eat-sugar-anymore-and-now-my-body-can’t-process-it tummyache. Totes worth it, though. Friend took some home, and I have the rest in the fridge. Tomorrow is going to be a very low simple-carb and starch day to give my stomach a break.

Still, treats are good! And being a glutton is good if it teaches you not to be a glutton in the future, right?

in the kitchen: homemade granola

Absolutely the first thing I have to tell you is that you should not cook it in a loaf pan like that. Get a roasting pan. I failed there, and as a result my granola is not the best it could have been. But still, my apartment smells fantastic, and I think with some almond milk and maybe a dab of honey in the bowl, this will be a great breakfast.

Lately I’m really into granola, but to get it gluten free is frustrating. First, gluten free processed foods (even not the bad kind of processed, like granola) are really expensive. Gluten free oats are hard to come by, because it’s much easier for farmers to process it alongside their gluten-full grains like wheat. Then there’s also my personal problem of not being able to have soy or dairy, either. The dairy thing isn’t really an issue, but some store brand granolas have soy oil or lecithin in them. Also, I’m picky about my nuts and seeds, and I don’t like spending a lot of money on something I’m only going to kind of enjoy. So I thought I would spring for a bag of Bob’s Gluten-Free Whole Rolled Oats and do some experimenting.

I trolled the web for recipes and found a bazillion, all with similar ingredients and cooking processes, but with different ratios and cooking temperatures. I also didn’t want to buy a whole lot of extra ingredients right after spending $10 a pound on oats, so I went with sunflower seeds, because I figured I would also use them in trail mix and on salads, and almonds, which I will happily munch on all the time. I also had vanilla extract and cinnamon, olive oil, ginger, and honey. Most recipes recommend agave nectar and/or maple syrup as a sweetener, and now, having tasted my own granola, I think that would probably taste better. But mine is not bad, and I’m proud of myself for experimenting with food and coming out with an edible and enjoyable product.

Pretty, right? So I decided to go with an oven at 325, about three cups of oats, and the aforementioned other ingredients. I eyeballed those and ended up with a handful of seeds and three or four handfuls of whole almonds, which I threw into a Ziploc bag and banged on with a hammer until I got chunks. I stirred the dry goods together with a teaspoon of cinnamon and some grated fresh ginger (well, fresh when I bought it, sitting in a bag in my freezer), and then I really wished I had nutmeg. Then I threw in a little oil and water, splashes of vanilla extract, and some globs of honey and stirred it all again. Then I threw it in the wrong pan and shoved it in the oven. I took it out every twelve or so minutes and stirred it and then put it back again. It took about an hour, though I suspect if you use the correct pan, it’s only about 40-45 minutes.

Still, yum, I think. Definitely good smelling, and I’ll find out how it tastes tomorrow at breakfast.

in the kitchen: spaghetti sans noodles

One of the many changes to my diet my doctor has suggested is cutting way back on refined carbs, sugars, and starches, and cutting back on those things in general, even if they’re whole. This helps people with IBS and diabetes especially, but it’s also good for all people, especially if you are an American who has been following the old food pyramid, because that basically advocated a box of cereal, a loaf of bread, and a bushel of potatoes a day, and that’s disgusting. Fat doesn’t put fat on your body, carbs do. Anyway.

I also just generally like to find ways to put more produce into my daily diet. I’ve given up thinking about it in terms of fruits and vegetables, because I’ve always been more of a vegetable girl, and if I keep tabs I get confused about what category you throw things like avocado, tomato, and bell pepper, so instead, I just go with trying to eat a lot of colorful things that come out of the ground.

With a jar of spicy tomato-basil spaghetti sauce (I had it lying around; otherwise I think it’s great to take diced tomatoes, fresh herbs and garlic, and chopped mushrooms and make it fresh), a Trader Joe’s sundried tomato chicken sausage, and a spaghetti squash, I made a delicious, filling dinner that can easily be made vegetarian by subbing the sausage for some kind of fake sausage or extra veggies.

Not the best photo, but it was oh so yummy, and it was a one bowl, one pan meal that didn’t take long at all, except the spaghetti squash, which you can easily make in advance. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and then coat the inside with a little olive oil and garlic. Throw it in a baking dish with a little water, bake for an hour at 375 degrees. Scrape out the insides and they look like spaghetti. I made it a day in advance and left it in the fridge, but it probably won’t keep longer than that. Then I threw it in a skillet with the sauce and sausage, tossed it, and served it. So easy to make, easy to change, easy to make with whatever you have in your house.

in the kitchen: baked vegetable pakoras

After going to the Copley Farmers’ Market on Friday, I was really excited to do something with this:

I mean, look at it. And actually, that’s not a photo of mine, because I’m bad at photos (so this one is from Woophy.com). Mine is an even softer orange, and they called it “cheddar cheese cauliflower.” I had to have it. And since I also had some other vegetables in my fridge that needed to be eaten (why do carrots and celery lose their crunchiness so quickly here compared to Arizona?), I decided I should try to make pakoras. Pakoras are great because they’re a side dish that can easily be a main dish just with a larger portion. You can use just about any vegetable (I used carrot, cauliflower, and asparagus, but zucchini, onion, and broccoli are also good), and the batter is easy. It’s essentially deep fried veggies, but instead of deep frying, they’re baked, and they use garbanzo flour, so they’re gluten free. They really taste like junk and yet they’re not so bad for you. I think it’s the curry powder and the fact that it’s not regular old flour that makes you think you’re eating actual deep fried things, even though you’re not.

I had a recipe, but as I went about doing it, I realized that it must have been more of a pakora pancake kind of recipe, and the time I ate pakoras at a restaurant, it was more like deep fried individual veggie pieces. So, even though I followed the recipe’s proportions as far as baking powder:flour:curry:salt, I decided to try and make them resemble what I’ve had before (though I had them in the Czech Republic, so that’s not the biggest indication that I was doing it right). So that’s it–an egg, some oil, garbanzo flour, baking powder, salt, and curry. Toss the veggies in it, bake it for 20 minutes, and done! Since lately I can’t eat anything without hot sauce, I decided to throw some sriracha on them. If you can have dairy, they’re traditionally served with raita sauce. Hummus would probably be good, too. And now I’m enjoying some cool mango sorbet.