Saturday, 28 May 2016

Favourite Treats-Gluten Free, Low Carb, Grain Free

I eat gluten free and I generally also eat low-carb and grain free.  In addition to being diagnosed as celiac this just seems to be the diet my body is happiest on and I've tried many.  On a low fat, high carb vegan diet I was overweight and bloated.  I think we all have to find what is right for our bodies and not think there is one right diet for everyone.  I shun sugar but don't worry at all about fat.  Yes, there are things I don't eat or rarely eat that I wish I could but in the end my health and feeling my best wins.

Yes, this makes me one of those picky-about-food people, and I might not be everyone's favourite dinner guest.  It's all been a journey that grew from knowing that something was not working for me with regards to food and a determination to find what worked best for me and my body.  When it comes to low carb I eat that way 90% of the time but I do have treats and I don't worry about carbs if eating in a restaurant or at a friend's house since I do those things rarely anyhow. 

I like treats.  Some of my favourite things are just not reproducible in gluten free form and I have tried.  I've researched all of the recipe options and when it comes to the texture of real bread made with wheat flour and all the nice stretchy gluten, there is no replacement.  There is no getting around the fact that rice flour only mills down to something that resembles the texture of sand and while various gums can act as binders to mimic gluten the most commonly used one in gluten free baking is xanthan gum and I have a severe and quite unpleasant reaction to it.

Since really good pizza and pasta are something I will never again experience, I am not going to be deprived of cheesecake or brownies even if I do need to eat low carb most of the time.  In fact cheesecake can be gluten free and low carb quite easily but it can also be made single-serve in the microwave in a jiffy.  Here's how.

Microwave Cheesecake Snack -for One

4oz cream cheese- softened in the microwave for about 40 seconds.

1 egg
1/4 cup sugar or low-cal sweetener such as Splenda, Xylitol or Erythritol*
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp heavy cream

Whisk the ingredients together until smooth and microwave on high for 2 min possibly 2 min 30 seconds.  It should be solid enough that when lightly touched with your finger it stays firm.  It will resemble a baked custard.

Let this cool or even chill a few hours for most cheesecake-like texture and eat with berries and whipped cream.

I could have made this in mason jars and taken photos of it all with a pretty background and fancy filter but I'm not that kind of blogger.

Fudgey Brownies-Gluten Free (no flour at all, no xanthan gum)

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups loosely packed brown sugar (I've not yet found the right way to do this with just Splenda but 1 cup Splenda and 1 cup brown sugar probably works. Sugar gives texture as well as sweetness)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup dark cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts optional

Mix all ingredients together in one bowl until smooth.
Grease a rectangular dish-9x13 or similar and spread the batter in the pan. 

Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.

It's always better to slightly under bake brownies than to over bake them. If you want thicker brownies use a smaller pan and bake a little longer but keep an eye on them.

These are very gooey so cool completely before cutting and cut with a sharp knife that you frequently wipe clean.

If you want a simple icing for them, sprinkle chocolate chips over the still warm brownies after removing them from the oven, wait a few minutes and then spread the melted chocolate with a spatula.  These are lower in carbs due to the absence of flour but the best texture I've achieved comes with sugar so still a treat if following a low carb diet.

I also have a new favourite breakfast that I'd like to share.  I am sure this can be tweaked according to personal preferences and my own measuring was rather approximate.

First I made a grain-free hot cereal mix like this:

1 cup Almond meal or flour
1 cup Unsweetened coconut
1 cup Golden Flax meal
1 cup Hemp seeds
 1 cup Chia seeds

Proportions aren't too important, and based mainly on taste preference.  The chia seeds are important for giving this cereal a creamy and glutinous texture like cream of wheat or oatmeal.  I put all ingredients in my food processor and ground them together.   You could include 1/2 cup your preferred granular sweetener and perhaps pumpkin pie spice if you wish.

Instant Breakfast Cereal -for One

To cook this the simple method you just add boiling water or hot milk/cream and stir until it thickens to your desired consistency.  Roughly 2 parts liquid to 1 part cereal works well.  If it's too thick you can just add more liquid.

My Favourite Creamy Vanilla Custard Style Cereal -for One

Heat half cup light cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
Add a slightly beaten egg slowly so as not to cook quickly**, stir constantly
Stir in 1/4 cup cereal mixture and keep stirring, drizzle in more cream if needed.
Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and remove from heat. 

Serve with berries, yogurt or more cream!

* Sugar alcohols (they end in -ol) can act as laxatives in large doses and Xylitol is toxic to dogs.  I generally use Splenda, which is sucralose, though have sometimes used Erythritol for baking as well.  It's more expensive and there is that laxative issue to consider.

** The fool-proof method of adding raw egg to hot liquid is to stir a little bit of liquid into the egg to gradually warm it up before adding it to the saucepan.  Add 1 tbsp hot liquid at a time and stir well.  

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